UNITED STATES—I say this all the time and I will continue to repeat this no matter what. I love the notion of giving and I love the fall months because it seems people just have an extra boost in their energy. People give and they do so from the kindness of their heart which is something that matters most; there is no angle, they are not attempting to get something in return, they do so because it is the right thing to do. I’ll give you a perfect example.

I see the Red Cross kettles all the time now, I was a bit surprised because I was used to seeing them at the start of November. That has slightly shifted a bit, until after the Thanksgiving holiday and then you see the bell ringers out in the frigid cold at times trying to collect donations for those in need. Every time I see a kettle I donate any change or spare dollars I have in my pocket. Look, I know everyone cannot do it all the time, but my thinking is if you can, please do. My thought process is someone needs this dollar more than me and I’m hoping this will help their holidays become brighter.

At the same time, people tend to mimic what they see; if they see other people donating they are inclined to donate as well as a result. It is also a good teaching lesson for children. Show them at a very early age that giving to others and those who are less fortunate is very important. You never know when you could be in such a predicament where you are in need of a helping hand. Life delivers curveballs and during this time of year there are many people who need a little extra help to put food on the table, to keep a roof over their heads or to at least place a gift under the tree so no kid wakes up without a gift on Christmas Day.

It may sound like a harsh reality, but it is a reality for so many Americans who cannot afford Christmas gifts, they are just living day by day to survive, so anytime you donate to charities, give to the homeless or donate to those red kettles you are helping someone who might be in desperate need. Not only are you boosting their spirits, you boost your spirits at the same time. I don’t know about you, but I get a bigger smile on my face whenever I give. Just trying to describe the feeling I get is impossible. All I can say is I know it’s something that I need to do and as a result when I’m able to do it I do it.

Nothing annoys me more when people refuse to give to the homeless, but I can understand why. That recent incident in Baltimore is a prime example of why you have to tread lightly in terms of who you give to. Being a Good Samaritan is important, but you never know what other people’s alternatives are. Just as a note of caution, if you feel uncomfortable with a situation, you are alone or its dark to where you cannot fully see your surroundings, I would be careful of rolling down windows and giving to strangers. Some people have ulterior motives and for that woman to be brutally murdered, simply when she attempted to help someone she thought was in need was horrific.

It is your choice to do what you want with your money, but you cannot assume that someone is homeless by choice, a lot of the time it’s situational. Things just happen and before you know it, a domino effect has transpired putting them in dire straits. Don’t assume someone is using that dollar or change that you gave them to buy cigarettes, alcohol or drugs; you’re reaching. They might be using that money to get something to eat or save enough to get a room for the night to get out of the brutal cold. This is especially true for those living in the Midwest of on the East coast.

Look at giving this way, to those that you give you deliver a helping hand, you never know when you might be in a position where you need a helping hand. That is not to say to give because you expect something in return, you do it because your heart tells you to do it and you’re helping the less fortunate at the same time. We’re all Americans, and we should help those when we can, not just around the holidays, but year round.