The Greatest Gift You Can Give Yourself is Giving to Others

By Vanessa Copeland

When my son was still pretty small, I came to the conclusion that we had forgotten the most important part of the holiday season: Giving. So, I decided to put parameters on what my son gets for Christmas. Every year since that Christmas he gets four gifts: Something he wants, something he needs, something to wear and something to read. The something he wants is always his big gift (Santa used to get the credit for those) and his something to wear is always Christmas PJs and a movie that he opens on Christmas Eve. We curl up together and watch the movie in our PJs. It has been an amazing tradition that I have never regretted starting. However, the four-gift tradition is not our favorite part of the season. The other tradition we started that year is doing a charitable act every holiday season. It quickly became our very favorite thing about this time of year. We both look forward to planning what we will do each year and the feeling we get in return is like no other. So, for this installment of Julie, I wanted to give a few local options for charitable donations of either time or money in case any of you would like to start your own family tradition. I promise, you will not regret it.


  1. Faithful Friends Animal Advocates and Joplin Humane Society

Donating your time at either of these shelters does not feel like a sacrifice at all. They have something for everyone; from playing with the puppies and kittens to doing a load of laundry or helping with office work. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the painful lives some of these animals have had. Anything we can do to bring some joy into their lives will come back to you tenfold. Both places also accept monetary and supply donations. Please see links below for more information.


  1. Hope Kitchen

Hope Kitchen is a community kitchen that provides hot meals free of charge to those in need. Approximately 2,000 meals are served each month. It is a restaurant style dining experience where the volunteers wait tables and tend to the wants and needs of the guests. Wylie and I had an opportunity to volunteer for a meal and it was an amazing experience. It is also the perfect venue if you’re looking for something a large group can do together. For more information, please see the link below.


  1. Ronald McDonald House of the Four States

The Ronald McDonald House is a national organization whose mission statement is to “find and support programs that directly support the health and well-being of children and their families.” The chapter in Joplin does just that for families in the four-state area. There are a number of ways to volunteer at the house and they accept volunteers of nearly all ages. They also accept monetary donations and host several fundraising events throughout the year. For more information, please see the link below.


  1. Lafayette House

4,774,000 women in the US experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year. Two million injuries and 1300 deaths are caused as a result of domestic violence every year. Three women are murdered by an intimate partner every day. The Lafayette House is a temporary shelter for area women affected by domestic violence. There are numerous ways to volunteer from transportation to preparing and serving meals. Lafayette House also accepts monetary and supply donations. For additional information, visit the link below.


  1. Fostering Hope

Fostering Hope is an organization that strives to bring hope and support to the local foster care system. This includes supporting foster families as well as the children. Volunteers are needed for a variety of things from helping at events held throughout the year to “behind the scenes tasks”. They also accept skills donations; ie. Photographers donating time for family pictures, hair stylists donating services to the children and families, etc. Fostering Hope also accepts monetary and supply donations. Christmas of Hope is program held during the holiday season to provide gifts to children in the local foster care system. For more information, visit the link below.


These are a just a few of the local organizations where you and your family may donate your time or show your support in a number of ways. I hope that you will all think about giving to those in need during this, the Season of Giving. Remember, “Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.” – Jim Rohn.

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