These days it seems hard to imagine that the season of brotherly love is practically upon us. The bitter divide over the impeachment of a president has created an atmosphere that harkens more to the days leading up to the American Civil War than to Christmas 2019. And while we can’t do much, if anything, to calm the political storm, we can feel better by giving to others.
And, yes, that means feeling better in every way: emotionally and physically. Science has long documented the benefits of giving: lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression, lower stress levels, longer life and greater happiness.
A study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, found that people 55 and older who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than those who didn’t volunteer – even accounting for many other factors including age, exercise, general health and negative habits like smoking.
Furthermore, when researchers at the National Institutes of Health looked at the functional MRIs of subjects who gave to various charities, they found that giving stimulates the mesolimbic pathway, which is the reward center for the brain – releasing endorphins and creating what is known as the “helper’s high.” We should add that, as with other highs, this one could also prove addictive.
There are plenty of places to earn that high with a host of local charities that need our help. The following list is by no means definitive but it includes familiar organizations that merit consideration: Uvalde Food Bank, St. Henry de Osso Family Project, El Progreso Memorial Library, Southwest Family Life Center, Kate Marmion Rides to Radiation, Cactus Jack Foundation, Sahawe Indian Dancers, St. Philip’s Closet, Herby Ham Activity Center, Uvalde Memorial Hospital Hospice and Humane Society of Uvalde.
The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are certainly deserving of our support. They include Boy Scout Troop 181, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club; Boy Scout Troop 479, sponsored by American Legion Post 479; and Troop 81, sponsored by First United Methodist Church.
There are three local Girl Scout troops – 78, 689 and 872 – that need our support. To make a contribution contact Community C Chair Tabitha Bomer at 210-429-5110.
There are also numerous projects that focus on toys for children – Santa’s Elves at Country Gardens and Seed, the Uvalde Police Officers’ Association annual Blue Santa toy drive and the Sabinal Police Department Blue Santa toy drive.
And if these charities do not appeal to you, there are countless individual cases involving Uvaldeans who have been stricken by disease or natural disaster.
Why not commit to an act of charity during the upcoming holiday season? You will make Christmas brighter for someone in need, and the chances are good that you will live longer and happier in the bargain.