Help! How Do YOU Answer the Call?
Help. We all need it at times for a million different reasons. It can be as simple as someone opening the door for you when you have an armload of groceries or as complex as a stranger pulling you from a burning building. In either scenario, you are truly grateful for that gesture. But does that make you think of how YOU can help someone else? I sure hope so! Whether you help a stranger or a loved one, the fact that you thought about them and chose to assist is more meaningful than anything.
I believe in random acts of kindness & helping total strangers- I wish more people did but nowadays we are so busy in our day-to-day dealings that we don’t see the opportunities. Or, perhaps instead of being blind to opportunities we are suspicious of them and we just don’t want to get involved because we’ve heard the stories of how the Good Samaritan ended up in trouble. I find it sad that our society has shifted to one where we all just mind our own business when we see someone in need. We don’t really think to help people unless they’re someone we know & they ask us. And what about helping those that aren’t people? Animals need help, too!
Here are 4 easy ways that you can help:
1. Random Acts of Kindness – I love to do these acts. Not only do they take the person you are helping by surprise, they make YOU feel good, too! When I go out to eat, if I see someone eating alone & looking lonely or sad I ask the wait staff to bring me their bill. I pay the bill anonymously, tip generously & write a little note to the person which the wait staff delivers. It usually says something along the lines of “It was my pleasure to buy you dinner tonight, thank you for making my day.” And it TRULY is my pleasure. When I see the smile on their face as they look around to see who bought their meal, I can’t help but get teary eyed. There are lots of ways we all can do these acts- some for free even! Open doors for strangers, let the person behind you in line go first, let the guy trying to change lanes in traffic get in front of you, tell someone their shoes are amazing or simply smile at a stranger & give them a genuine hello. Such simple acts go a very long way!
2. Donate – Donations aren’t just monetary- you can give your time, old possessions that you aren’t going to use but are still good, you can even give your hair! I had gorgeous Pantene commercial hair– very long & shiny, many times girls would say they wanted it. Then I learned about Locks of Love, the charity that takes hair donations & makes wigs for kids who have lost their hair from cancer treatments. I chopped off my beautiful tresses & my stylist sent them off to the charity. I felt so good about it that I didn’t care that I now had a hairstyle I couldn’t make sense of – all that mattered was the kid who got my hair. Another time I had a bunch of old rugs, towels & blankets that I wanted to donate. I looked up an animal rescue that needed them for bedding & took them over right away. I didn’t get a receipt for a tax write off but I was OK with that – I helped homeless animals & the people doing all the work – which meant so much more. It’s easy to donate in the obvious ways & it’s a great gesture to make. But when I donate to the lesser-known causes, I feel much more fulfilled.
3. Helping The Less Fortunate – Times are hard & people are losing their jobs, homes, families. How can you help? Giving money to the person standing on the corner holding a sign is quick & easy but I prefer to take it a step further. I will go to the nearest fast food place & order a meal complete with a drink & dessert and then take it to that person. If they have a dog with them, I buy a bag of dog food in addition to their meal. If they have kids there, I buy kid’s meals so they get a toy. Occasionally I’ll get the “I don’t want food, I want money!” response, but that’s OK. I leave the food & wish them the best knowing that they will eventually eat it & not be hungry.
If you do something with the expectation of getting a thank you, at times you will be disappointed. Do it anyways & forget about getting anything in return – that is the true spirit of helping others. You can volunteer at your local soup kitchen or animal shelter if you like & get the same results (although at the animal shelter you may get some tail wags!).
4. Take a Risk – We truly grow when we take risks. Recently, my boyfriend & I helped an injured pelican at Newport Beach. The bird had a big rusty fish hook in its beak & a fishing lure stuck in its wing. He grabbed the bird’s beak while I put the bird in a bear hug to keep it steady. As the bird struggled to get free from my hug, he pried the hook out of its mouth & pulled the lure from its wing. I thought I was going to get dragged into the water or hurt by this huge & strong bird but I held on. In minutes, the pelican was back in the water & swimming away from us, happy as could be. Last year, I heard a kitten crying in distress. I went outside, following the cries until I found the kitten clinging to my neighbor’s screen door 6 feet above the ground. It didn’t belong to the resident but he said he would pass my info on to the kitten’s owner. I took the kitten home & cared for it until it’s owner called me. She could have been mad that I took her kitten but she was very grateful when I took the baby back to her. It was a risk worth taking! Don’t be afraid to extend yourself beyond your comfort zone.
How do YOU help others? I’d love to hear about what you do to make a difference!