Berkeley, California (EastBayDaily) — Though many families exchange gifts for each of the eight nights during Hanukkah, simple acts of kindness can sometimes be the greatest gifts. To help kick off the holiday season, Linda Cohen, author of the new Seal Press book, 1,000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire, and Change Your Life, is offering eight helpful suggestions for simple ways to give back.
In 1,000 Mitzvahs, Cohen, a life-long volunteer, entrepreneur, wife, and mother of two, provides a personal testament to the transformational power of kindness, and offers a call to arms for those who’d like to follow in her footsteps with their own mitzvahs—no matter how large or small. When her father passed away in December 2006, Cohen’s busy life came to a screeching halt. She took a spiritual sabbatical to work through her grief, and came out of it resolved to embark upon a project: perform one thousand acts of kindness—mitzvahs—to honor her father’s memory.
To help readers embark on their own season of giving, Cohen is offering eight simple ideas to assist in kick-starting their mitzvahs during the holiday season:
1. Collect donations. Hosting a holiday party? Collect something to donate, like toiletries or hats and gloves for a local shelter. Also ask guests to bring a gift card to donate to a non-profit instead of a hostess gift.
2. Donate to charity. Instead of giving presents to each other, donate money to a charity of the recipient’s choice using a service like TisBest Charity.
3. Collect coins. Instead of giving Hanukkah gelt (coins) this year, have family members collect all the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters lying around in the house and give it to a non-profit organization or charity in need.
4. Volunteer time. Visit a local senior center or nursing home on Hanukkah, Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day and visit with the residents. Many residents don’t get visitors around the holidays, and will be thrilled to spend time chatting, sharing a bite, or even playing cards. Another way to volunteer is to bring gifts like art supplies, magazines, and books to children who are in the hospital over the holidays.
5. Adopt a family. Adopt a family or a soldier and provide them with a meal or gifts.
6. Wrap it up. Volunteer to wrap presents for a non-profit that collects them for children in need.
7. Donate to a local food bank. Are there food pantries that need donations or volunteers? Investigate how to help the hungry during the holidays.
8. Deliver, donate, or serve food. Take time to volunteer at a shelter during one day of the holidays, or purchase meal vouchers or subway tickets to give out to those that ask on the street.
Cohen asks that readers take the time this holiday season, and in 2012, to think of ways to make life better and easier for their friends and neighbors. To learn about all of the 1,000 ways Cohen chose to make a difference in the lives of others, readers can purchase a copy of 1,000 Mitzvahs at a local bookstore, or by visiting the Seal Press website and viewing a complete list of online booksellers.
About Seal Press: Seal Press was founded in 1976 to provide a forum for women writers and feminist issues. Since then, Seal has published groundbreaking books that represent the diverse voices and interests of women—their lives, literature, and concerns. Seal’s authors are radical and original thinkers, professionals with a distinct point of view, gutsy explorers, truth-tellers, and writers who engender laughter, tears, and rage. Seal Press publishes books with the goal of informing women’s lives. Based in Berkeley, Calif., Seal is a member of the Perseus Books Group. To learn more, visit the Seal Press website.