Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, December 14, 2020.

No matter where you turn you get reminded that it’s almost Christmas. Of course, that’s great and exciting for many. And then, even in a normal year, Christmas is a trying time for so many others. This year especially though, it’s tougher to face the holidays knowing how many are struggling with it.

This year our family has donated more than ever to various causes because the times we live in are just that way. If you are among those who can help, please do. Kindness is never to be measured in the amount you give but in the fact that you cared.

Much like I always say, keeping it local is vital. It applies to charity and kindness too.

If you head to the food store, tuck some change in your pocket before you leave home so you can add to the Salvation Army collection kettles powered by volunteers. I am reminded that we live in an amazing and giving community whenever I hear the bells ringing and I know that these selfless people stand by the kettle hoping to fill it day after day until Christmas. If giving is not an option, share a smile and a greeting. They are free and heart-warming.

If you only order food online and generally do not go to store much but still want to contribute to helping people in our community, here’s a list to get you started:

Here’s a thought which I might as well classify as personal belief: doing good and being kind is what ultimately creates a space inside our hearts that can foster hope, more so during a year such as the one soon to end. Contributing to causes, no matter which ones you choose, is what helps us see better days ahead. On that note, please add to the list above if a charity or a cause you know about has not been mentioned.

Subjective as it may be, the feeling that you did something is a big incentive towards doing more yet. I am not just talking donations of money and goods.

There are many causes that need loud voices in order to have an impact at a higher political level. One that I consider near and dear to every British Columbian’s heart is saving the wild salmon, particularly the Fraser River Sockeye, which has seen a sharp decline in recent years.

Until December 18, you can add your voice to the group that is requesting Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to not approve the renewal of the open-net pen salmon farms in the waters near Discovery Islands, which is one of the main migration routes for the threatened wild salmon.

If you’re wondering if petitions and public pressure amount to anything, the answer is yes, they do. See the recent victory for caribou near Revelstoke.

The future is being shaped by more than just public action which can leave many feel helpless. But doing our part whenever possible and in whatever way possible matters. It is the combination of helping individuals in a community and taking a social stance on issues that are shaping our common future, short and long-term, that ultimately boosts our individual sense of hope and our collective desire to see humanity survive its trials, present and future.