Let’s give back, Bison

There are many different ways to give back to those in need this holiday season

John Swanson | Photo Courtesy
Money is not the only resource you can use to help those around you.


For many, the holidays can be a difficult time. There are so many people in our communities that are struggling, not just this year but every year. When we look at all of the amazing things we have in our lives, we should feel blessed. 

Some are not as blessed as us and it is so important to help those in need. I asked my family and friends why it is important to give to those in need, specifically around the holidays.

“Christmas is a time for sharing and caring. Share your talents, your tasty meals, your kindness and selflessness. Spread some Christmas cheer this year,” says an anonymous family member. 

“There are so many hardships in people’s lives, everyone deserves to feel love during the holidays, whether that would be a warm meal, being able to give gifts to loved ones and being able to enjoy the holiday for what it’s worth, with a little less stress.” 

One of my high school teachers is always big on giving, specifically during the holidays. She was always on the lookout for projects we can do to better our community. 

Mrs. Jayne Oachs, from Herman, Minnesota, says, “As a teacher, the holidays provide some insight to how some of my students live. What they live with and without and seeing the sadness and lack of hope in their eyes makes me realize how blessed I am. With knowing this, it compels me to share and offer hope.”

She continued, “If one small toy or piece of clothing can help bring joy to a child of any age, I sincerely have a difficult time passing up the opportunity to help make their holiday a little brighter.”

It is not just kids in need, there are adults in need that are struggling as well. There are many different ways you can help out those in your community.

You can donate to your local food shelf, bring in toys for ‘Toys 4 Tots,” donate your clothing or donate to those who might need some warmer clothes this winter. Another item that would be beneficial to those in need would be toiletry items.

If you want to do something different this year, rather than donating toys, clothes or food, you can always switch it up. Do you have a talent? Is there something you enjoy doing or have a certain skill you are good at? 

Put it to good use and use that talent or skill to help those in need. Whether it is cooking a meal, making blankets or mittens, FaceTime someone who may be lonely or maybe make some cute Christmas cards and send them to those who may be alone this Christmas.

In my community back home, a florist is sharing her talents by asking the community to donate money to put towards purchasing poinsettias and Christmas cacti for those who are in assisted living centers, nursing homes or any other individuals who are unable to see their families in-person this holiday season. I believe this is a great idea and, without a doubt, I know it will make their day. 

One of my family members said she donates toys specifically to foster families. These foster families have their own children as well as their foster children, it can get expensive to buy toys for all of their kids, therefore community members help out by donating toys to what our community calls the Grant County Foster Closet. These foster families in our county can go into the ‘Foster Closet’ and choose toys or clothing to give their foster children for Christmas. 

“It often takes the whole community, if you belong to somewhere like that, you should feel lucky,” says my aunt, Charlene Blume, from Elbow Lake, Minnesota, who discusses how her community comes together to help those who are in need.

Another way you can help out is by donating your time. Go to an animal shelter and play with the dogs or send cards or letters to those who are protecting our country and will be away for the holidays. Ask homeless shelters or soup kitchens if they need help this holiday season or maybe even volunteer to ring the Salvation Army bell at a local business. 

Think of our healthcare heroes who are working on Christmas day, maybe order some food and have it delivered to the hospitals. This would definitely spread cheer.

In the past, my family has decided to give to those in need instead of getting us big expensive gifts. I remember being a young middle-schooler and my parents telling us they were giving the money they normally spend on our gifts to families who are tight on money. I remember hearing this news and just completely crying. It was so amazing and inspiring to see my parents do this for others.

It is not just the one getting the gift or necessity that is happy. The giver is more than likely also going to find joy in giving. Even though you may not know the person in need, it still feels good to give to those who are less fortunate than us. When you give to those in need, it does not always have to say it is from you, you can give anonymously as well.

Think about your community, how can you help those who are less fortunate than yourself this holiday season and even this next year? How can you make those around you feel blessed in so many different ways? 

I hope I gave you enough ideas on how to help out through the holidays and throughout the year. The little things go a long way. Do something kind for those around you, whether it is the holidays or not.

If you are feeling down this holiday season due to not being able to spend time with family and friends, think of all the ways you were blessed this year. Whether it is a friend giving you a ride back home for Christmas break or having opportunities that may benefit you or those in your community.

If you need help this holiday season, reach out to a friend or family member, they may be able to bless you in ways you have never thought was possible.

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