The Giving List

A few weeks ago in a blog I asked you this question: What is one thing you’ve done that has helped or served someone in a practical way?

I promised to take what you sent in and send it out as a blog and download. So here it is!

Why would I do this? Because I firmly believe that the way to help everyone is to help someone. So when we hear how other people help people, we all benefit because it loads our collective brains with down-to-earth ideas about how to be more helpsome. (It’s a word, trust me.)

I received over 60 practical—and often unique—ideas, and that doesn’t include2doubles. The result is this blog:

The Giving List.

Before I share the ideas, here’s a quick word of caution. You need to be smart about how you help someone. It’s wise not to jump into a situation where you feel unsafe or uncertain. So use your noggin.

That said, here’s The Giving List:

  1. Cut down trees and do yard work for elderly neighbours
  2. Knit chemo hats for the hospital and Gilda’s Club
  3. Help a neighbour with skills you have and they don’t (like putting together a new grass trimmer)
  4. Be on-the-ready for people who need jumper cables for their car
  5. Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in the line at Tim Horton’s
  6. Donate blood regularly
  7. Knit prayer shawls for people in nursing homes or Hospice
  8. Knit Izzy dolls for the military
  9. Volunteer at the Hospital or Hospice (need to take some training)
  10. See if there are kids in need at your child’s school and anonymously provide them with supplies, and even pack-a-bag
  11. Walk your friends’ kids to school when they need to work early
  12. When it’s safe, clear away blown up truck tires from the road – they’re hazards
  13. Have your cell handy to offer to people with car problems
  14. Knit or crochet ‘busy’ muffs or lap quilts for those with Alzheimer’s
  15. Walk a neighbours dogs or put out their garbage when they are sick
  16. Recruit others and monitor quality of local lakes, and then inform neighbours about best practices that are environmentally sound
  17. Deliver meals to people who are alone, sick or grieving
  18. If people are open to it, give hugs… many people are starving for human contact. Quote: “I’m just trying to be Christ with skin on for those around me.”
  19. When out for a walk or run, pray for people on different streets
  20. Intentionally go into your day with a commitment to say encouraging words to people
  21. Keep an envelope of money in the car for homeless people
  22. Separate all your loonies and twonies (Canadian currency slang) in a jar for handing out when needed
  23. Be on call for when neighbours need to go to the hospital or an important appointment
  24. Volunteer in a literacy program
  25. Participate in a Habitat-for-Humanity build
  26. Go on a mission trip to another country… stretch yourself!
  27. Befriend and mentor an at-risk youth
  28. Make soup and muffins for people who are new to the neighbourhood
  29. Visit with people who are home-bound
  30. Donate old instruments to a high school music program
  31. Clean your local park
  32. Help out in Sunday School or kids’ ministry
  33. Write advocacy letters with/for people who don’t have strong English skills
  34. Free babysitting to a new mom
  35. Donate clothes and food to the Food Bank, and often, to specific people
  36. Drive friends to chemotherapy and doctor appointments
  37. Offer your home to people who are passing through town, and even provide some meals
  38. Carry around new, clean socks for people on the street
  39. Buy extra coffee or food when you’re downtown and hand it to someone who is hungry
  40. Make conversation with a random person you don’t know but who looks lonely
  41. On early morning walks or runs clean up debris and litter from people’s yards
  42. Carry around granola bars and dog cookies to give to neighbours (of all legs!) for something to eat
  43. Shovel a neighbour’s driveway
  44. Pay for a child to go to an overnight camp
  45. Volunteer at the Food Bank
  46. Sing in a choir and donate the proceeds to charity
  47. Foster and adopt rescue dogs
  48. Sit with a new Canadians to help them learn about the culture, customs, and language
  49. Run a drop-in for adults who feel isolated
  50. Pick up the used paper towels in the bathroom that have fallen to the floor, and push the down used paper towels that are overflowing in the washrooms… and wash your hands afterward!
  51. Volunteer with Big Brothers, Big Sisters
  52. Help at the crisis pregnancy centre and obtain needed items (diapers, clothes)
  53. Randomly give strangers gas cards
  54. Push out people’s cars when stuck in the snow
  55. Help coach your child’s sports team
  56. Tend to your parents closely as they age, lose some independence, and deal with increased confusion
  57. Be a practical help to widows who are grieving (food, friendship, navigating government organizations/paper work)
  58. Sing in a senior’s home at Christmas
  59. Help elderly people with loading groceries into their car
  60. Send thank you cards, gift bags and movie tickets to the police and fire departments to say thank you


I should also say that some of the submissions couldn’t be easily summarized, like the community-wide outreach that helps young people think about their future and discover their personal strengths. Or the church program that mobilizes and organizes it’s people to plug into other community organizations that need help.

A lot of people are also helping others through community organizations like churches, Rotary, Lions, Gilda’s Club, and school programs.1

And several told me about simply trying be a helpful presence at work and in conversations with friends by being generous and the first person to volunteer when someone needs a hand.

There are a lot of needs out there. We seem to live in a bruised and bruising world. But don’t let that intimidate you. The way to help everyone is to help someone.

Too often we buy the lie that powerful spirituality is high drama—things like instant healings, massive crowds and corpses regaining a pulse… those moments, movements and miracles that make you say ‘Wow!’

But more often than not, powerful spirituality has to do with LOW drama, those day-to-day actions when lives are helped, prayers are asked and answered, and the souls of God’s people are seasoned with grace.

Low drama spirituality has a highly dramatic impact. 

It may not make the news, but that doesn’t matter. We all have an audience of One.

One of the people who wrote in to me was Susie from Ohio. She told me about one of her favourite quotes. I think it’s great so I’d like to share it with you as I bring this blog to a close:

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”

The way to help everyone is to help someone. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas, and for helping more people help people.


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