How to offer assistance to those in need.
In recent months we’ve experienced natural disasters of a new magnitude at home, while the increasing connectedness of the world makes the violence from Myanmar to Syria to sub-Saharan Africa seem that much closer. So it’s hard to ignore the call to become more conscious, more kind, and more considerate of one another. Although the holiday season is typically a time to buy for others, many of us are reflecting on the devastation and asking, “What can I do?”
The saints and spiritual leaders encourage us to give of ourselves. From John the Baptist (“Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none”) to the current Dalai Lama (“Our prime purpose in life is to help others”) to the yogis who taught seva (selfless service) as a key step on the path to higher wisdom, the message is clear: The spiritual life means giving when we can. Service is how we turn fear and grief into hope and joy.
If you’re called to get involved, there are an increasing number of volunteer organizations both at home and abroad that have suggestions for support—whether with your on-the-ground assistance, fundraising efforts, or simply giving money.
We’ve rounded up a collection of ideas to help you offer your hands in service this holiday season. If you’d like to join with others in the S&H community and collaborate on a project, start a conversation on S&H’s Facebook group.
Jump-Start Your Seva
Natural Disaster Assistance in North America, the Caribbean, and South Asia
- Project HOPE projecthope.org
- Heart to Heart International hearttoheart.org
- Islamic Relief USA irusa.org
- Red Cross redcross.org
- Mercy-USA for Aid and Development mercyusa.org
- Medical Teams International medicalteams.org
- ANERA anera.org
- Project Mercy projectmercy.org
Famine and Drought Support
- World Food Programme give.wfp.org
- UNICEF unicefusa.org
- World Vision donate.worldvision.org
- United Nations Volunteers unv.org
Talk About Altruism
- If you’re local to (or traveling in) the areas affected by late-summer hurricanes or earthquakes, call area food banks or Red Cross offices and ask what options exist for hands-on volunteering.
- Talk with your workplace about organizing donation drives, fundraisers, or short volunteer excursions.
- Discuss taking a volunteer vacation in the coming year with your family and close friends.
And daily, send prayers, positive energy, and meditations for happiness and less suffering to all sentient beings.
“We rise by lifting others.”
— Robert Ingersoll