Days are getting shorter, leaves are turning brown, and pumpkin pies have taken over. As Thanksgiving approaches, remember to practice [gratitude](https://mountainside.com/blog/recovery/the-key-to-happiness-gratitude) and focus on what really matters. Take some time to look back on your life and appreciate how far you’ve come. Make a list of all the things that you are thankful for this year ⎼ your success at work, the friendships you have gained, the quality time you have spent with loved ones. And as you take inventory of all the positive changes in your life, think of ways you can positively impact others.
Giving back is a powerful thing. It can fill your life with meaning and purpose, it can empower you to become the best version of yourself, it can introduce you to a loving and caring community, it can provide an outlet for negative emotions, it can give you a more positive outlook on life, and it can keep you committed to your recovery.
This [holiday season](https://mountainside.com/blog/recovery/avoiding-holiday-stress-for-your-recovery), take advantage of one of the greatest gifts that recovery has given you: the opportunity to give back to others. There is no shortage of volunteering opportunities, so find what you’re passionate about and get involved. Below are some ideas to help you get started.
**Help Others Stay Warm This Winter**
As the temperatures drop, families in deep financial trouble must decide between providing their children with food or a warm coat, and homeless individuals are left to brave the elements on the streets. For many struggling this season, a coat can be life-saving. Something as simple as going through your closet and donating a few coats can make a tremendous impact in their lives. A great way to make an even bigger impact is by encouraging your friends and family to participate or setting up a coat drive at your job.
There are several non-profits that organize coat drives. You can find where to donate using [One Warm Coat’s drop off location finder](https://www.onewarmcoat.org/donatecoats/), or by reaching out to your local community center, homeless shelters, and churches.
If you are in New York, you can also look into [New York Cares](https://www.newyorkcares.org/coat-drive). If you live in New Jersey, try [Jersey Cares](https://www.jerseycares.org/The_Jersey_Cares_Coat_Drive). If you live in Connecticut, [Coats for Connecticut is a great option](http://www.coatsforct.org/index.php).
**Visit a Nursing Home**
The holidays are a great time to spend with loved ones, but for those whose loved ones aren’t around, the holidays can be a particularly lonely time. As someone in recovery, you know the importance of community and connections. This holiday season, consider giving back by volunteering at a nursing home or helping homebound seniors. Maybe there’s even someone in your own neighborhood who lives alone and could use the extra help and company. Something as simple as baking them cookies, helping them with their groceries, or bringing them a book or a plant can brighten up their day.
If you are looking for more formal volunteering opportunities, try [ElderHelpers](https://www.elderhelpers.org/).
Recovery saved your life; your blood donation could do the same for someone else. And because giving blood requires minimal time and costs you nothing, it is an ideal way to give back during this busy (and often pricey) holiday season. Note that not everyone is [eligible to donate](https://www.redcrossblood.org/faq.html#eligibility), such as those who have used drugs intravenously, but there are many ways to help even if you are not eligible, including encouraging others to give blood via social media or hosting a blood drive at work.
**Provide Kids in Need with Some Holiday Cheer**
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or nothing at all, we can all agree that children love celebrating the holidays. Unfortunately, many are unable to take in the magic of the season due to their financial situation or health. You can help children in need enjoy the holidays by donating toys to organizations such as [Toys for Tots](https://www.toysfortots.org/donate/toys.aspx), “adopting” a family or child for the holidays through a local [Adopt-A-Child program](https://www.doinggoodtogether.org/bhf/adopt-a-child-or-family/), donating food to local food banks that help provide special holiday meals, making handmade h[oliday cards for hospitalized kids](http://www.cardsforhospitalizedkids.com/make-holiday-cards.html), or dropping off gift baskets at your local hospitals.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.