Helping Others to Help Yourself

Helping Others to Help Yourself
As someone who has struggled with the holidays for decades, my goal has long been to do something to help those less fortunate than me at this time of year. My reason was purely selfish. By helping them, I'd also help myself. Who doesn't feel good after doing a good deed? I aspired to volunteer at a homeless shelter to prepare or serve a Christmas dinner. Sadly, each year one of my many symptoms — usually pain, fatigue, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — has prevented me from doing so, and this year was no exception. Without this option, I chose to participate in the Angel Tree Project at my spiritual center. There, a tree was on display and each ornament contained the first name and age of a child whose family is served by the local hospice center. It included their three-item wishlist. My heart went out to these kids, so I carefully scanned each ornament to find a list that fit my meager budget. It involved a little shopping (which I did online on Black Friday) and a little wrapping (which I did one night when I couldn't sleep). It wasn't a lot, but it was truly a labor of love, knowing those gifts may be the only bright spot in that child's life this season. I wished to do more, but again, health and budget concerns intervened. A nasty head cold this year added to my usual fibromyalgia symptoms. Later, I read in the local paper about a group of parents at a nearby grade school. There are several homeless children among the student population, so the school parents decided to set up a private donation center for them. It would serve both the students' needs and those of their family members. The community was asked to donate gently used clothing for both the parents and the children. Finally, I saw my opportunity. You see, my IBS symptoms have im
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