Giving Back to CommUNITY

At Thanksgiving and all season, we at PIPH hope that the holidays find you healthy, safe, and grateful. As we move into the longer nights of winter, we invite you to step out and help your commUNITY. We are ALL in this together, but many in this joyous season of lights and darker nights have been struggling to hold on. There are simple and yet powerful ways to help our neighbors and friends to get through these times that can still be challenging. Simple acts of kindness and generosity go a very long way to lift others spirits out of the night and into the light. 

One of the easiest ways to help your neighbor is to take a little food and pass it along. For the past 20 months, I have brought extra soup, fruit, cookies, or other food items to an elderly single woman living alone down the street. This past year she broke her leg but the neighbors are helping support her. She is even back to walking around the block each evening. She is so incredibly grateful to receive even the smallest gift that it lifts my spirits as much as hers. If you are not a cook, don’t fret. Buy a little extra from the market. Pass on something fresh and healthy to your neighbors who may not buy it for themselves. Maybe they can’t afford it, or maybe they are just one or two in the house and can’t rationalize a whole bag of potatoes, or make it to the market for a crisp apple.

Another option is to help your neighbor with some task or chore. Ask for their grocery list and do their shopping when you do your own. Help an elderly couple navigate ordering items online. Shovel the snow off their walk or take their garbage out. Offer to help them decorate for the season. Selfless acts from the heart, even just the offer of them, tend to bring meaning to these trying and cold times. Find a reason to reach out with those immediately around you who may need to connect with other humans. We are in a mental health crisis in this world with extraordinary rates of anxiety and depression. A smile and a hello may lighten the days and nights for anyone who is feeling isolated and alone. Show someone you care and are thinking about them. Drop off a neighborly card saying “….Call if you need anything. Here’s my number….”. Brighten someone’s day with a gift of YOU. 

There are many ways to give to your community besides helping a neighbor. Food banks and shelters have a high demand for food and clothing items and can always use a good volunteer. The Salvation Army, Red Cross, or local service organizations are always in need of donations. In San Diego, Father Joe’s Village ( or Mama’s Kitchen ( are two such non-profits making a difference locally. Toys for Tots can make Christmas special for those children who have less this season. Your spiritual home may have special programs to help congregants or others who discover themselves less fortunate. Find a way to reach down and give beyond your own family. The world around you will be better for it, and I’m betting that you will feel great, too!

These times may be mentally, emotionally, or financially challenging for people and families in your own community. In this season of gratitude, we hope that you will find a way to give to those around you, outside of your own family. Lift your own spirits and those of others around you by giving to your commUNITY. 

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