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This time of year, many of us feel compelled to give more. We’re glad we have cash when we pull up to a stoplight and see a person holding a sign in the bitter cold. Or we realize we and our employees are overflowing with quality control test treats so that we can donate the extra pouches to a local shelter. 

How do we hold onto our desire to give? How do we remind ourselves that having everything we need far exceeds what many living, breathing, and feeling beings have? How do we share, even if just a little, with those who don’t have food, safety, and or shelter?

Years ago, a friend and I decided to spend Thanksgiving morning giving food to unhoused people in Chicago. When I called my mom’s best friend, Connie, who started and ran (she passed away this year after a years-long battle with cancer) an organization that helps unhoused and low-income people with pets, and asked what would be most beneficial to the people we wanted to serve, Connie said, ” Warm food, hot sandwiches.”  

As Dave and I walked and delivered breakfast sandwiches to people living under freeways and standing gloveless at highway exits, it warmed our hearts to see we weren’t the only ones who wanted to give food and clothes and talk to unhoused people in our community on a holiday morning. I believe those who need help need all the comfort they can get, but I thought, “I wonder who’s doing this on frigid January and February mornings.”

So, I started getting up early on Saturday mornings and delivering McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches to open areas where unhoused people lived. Then, we had a snowstorm, so I rationalized that I’d struggle to get around the city. Then, I woke up with the sniffles and told myself I didn’t want to get anyone sick. Then, I just wanted to sleep in and snuggle with Gavin. And then, I was back in the habit of not helping. 

As the year ends and I’m not working 60-80+ weeks, I often think about how I want to give more to the world. For years, a soft inner voice has told me I’m meant to help homeless dogs, and that call in my heart gets louder every day. So, I’m holding onto that feeling, listening, and watching where I need to go and how I can serve.

If your heart and soul guide you to help, I hope you also heed that call long after the giving season’s over. Until then, I sincerely wish you and your loved ones a peaceful and joyous holiday.