BY MICCA VANVIELD
As the holiday season draws near we start to place giving at the forefront of our minds. We start to think about what gifts we would like to buy for our loved ones and what we would like Santa to leave for us under the Christmas tree. This is a time for families to spend that quality time together that is generally missed throughout the year as lives get too hectic. Many families choose to travel for the holidays, especially to the Caribbean to visit family. But have you ever thought to volunteer or donate to a charity or cause while you plan to take that holiday?
The Christmas season is a time of giving. I strongly believe in giving and expecting nothing in return. When planning your travels this holiday season think about the destination you will be visiting. Think about those in need like children, or the homeless, those in need of things that we may overlook in our own lives. Think about how you can make a difference in the world even if you believe that it’s a small gesture.
I recently took a trip to Jamaica where I was out eating with my family. We were in a rural area and were enjoying our meal outside. We sat on stools and ate our meals on a shelf which made the perfect table. This is similar to what we would call a patio, however it was in true Jamaican rural style. As we sat down and enjoyed our meals we were approached by a small child. He looked to be about six years old and was asking me to share my meal with him. As I looked at what was left, which was barely nothing, I realized that it wouldn’t be enough for a meal. Not knowing when his last meal was, I decided to buy him his own meal. I was brought to tears when I saw the smile on his face as he walked away with his own meal. A full meal that would probably be replacing a number of missed ones.
I have no idea what this gesture could have done for this child and maybe even his family, however it did make me think about how much more I could have done when preparing for this vacation. When visiting family we all would like to take them the world. Keep in mind the baggage limitations when travelling. Most major carriers will allow you to carry one piece of luggage, a carry on, and personal item at no charge. You are also generally allowed a second piece of checked luggage for a small fee. When thinking to carry items for family or to donate to a shelter or charity, think about the impact that this will have on the person who will be receiving them. Things like books, pencils, diapers, sanitary napkins, underwear, socks, blankets, etc. This list could go on and on.
You don’t have to bring the world, or even break the bank, but think about volunteering your time, resources, or in some cases finances to the next destination you’re visiting. This experience will not only benefit those that you are visiting or offering these gestures to, but it will offer you a new found sense of peace knowing that you made a difference . You can actually book your trip as a volunteering vacation through companies that specialize in this area or plan your own self-guided volunteer adventure. Either way the purpose of helping someone else while you have an opportunity to get away will both be fulfilled.