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One of my favorite things about this time of the year is the spirit of generosity in the air. As we move further into the holiday season and begin making plans for feasts and mentally writing shopping lists, we often find ourselves with an increasing sense of gratitude for all that we already have. With that often comes an awareness that many of our neighbors and community members may not have quite so much.

The beautiful thing is that with that awareness, there frequently comes an increased desire to help. Yes, we give to those we love, but we also share in the spirit of love. Our generosity becomes broader, our gaze wider. We may choose to buy a toy to add to an unknown child’s Christmas. Some of us may volunteer our time to a worthy cause. We often go through our pantry or make an extra run to the grocery store and contribute to our local food bank.

I think so many of us opt for the food bank because we instinctively understand the importance of a shared meal. Our holidays are frequently defined by feasting together. We break bread together, laugh together and spend time together over the holiday table. We know the joy of having a special meal together, and we want our neighbors to have that too. On a fundamental level, we know people need to be fed, and in a season of so much, it is excruciating to think of anyone who goes without.

It is good to give, and I am grateful that the holiday season raises our awareness. That said, it is also important to remember that people need to eat all year long. People are as hungry in May as they are in December. There are indeed fewer holiday feasts, and in that way, our awareness becomes less acute, and perhaps the need is slightly less, but it is not gone. A family struggling to put food on the table may not need a ham or cranberry sauce specifically, but their need to feed their children has not dissipated.

 I realize that many of us are on tight budgets at the moment. If you are not in a place to give to a local food bank, that is okay. If you can help, please allow me to suggest looking at what you can do throughout the year.  I know. I get it. Life is busy, and our best intentions slip away from us. I am as guilty as anyone. We all get caught up in the busyness of our own lives.

 You may find it helpful to set a reminder on your phone once a quarter. A simple notification to remind you to see what you can give to your local food bank. It can be helpful to find a food bank you believe in and follow them on social media. Often simply seeing their posts will remind us to give and help with our awareness.

 You can make small steps towards big changes. You aren’t going to solve world hunger on your own. I don’t think you need to sell everything you own so that you can give it away or eat ramen noodles every night to afford to give more. You don’t have to hurt yourself to help others. I would never ask you to do that, but I will ask you to think of your neighbors and, when you do, to do what you can.

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