Seven more ways to be a better member of society this holiday season: Opinion: Smile politely

Seven more ways to be a better member of society this holiday season: Opinion: Smile politely

The peak of our intense holiday season (Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Years) has arrived. With that said, we wanted to revisit our article from this time last year that featured Eight ways to be a better member of society.

Last year, we noted that “there is no shame in being selfish as an incentive to do good and help others,” and we stand by that. Whatever your motivation, if you can help make Champaign-Urbana a better place for those less fortunate than you by donating time or money, thank you.

As always, this is not an exhaustive list; Please take your liberty Revisit our 2021 article, or our Ask politely article from 2020, although some of this information may be out of date. We have explored many of these topics in greater depth in more than 30 editorial articles published this year. If you need a little more depth or a refresher on the complexity of the topic, take a look at these seven ways to be a better member of the community this holiday season.

Get your and your kids vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu

Vaccines Safe and effective. Coronavirus, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are already causing problems for people across the country. Please take care of yourself and others – the epidemic is not over yet.

Flu and COVID vaccines are available in the Champaign Urbana Public Health District, through medical providers, and at pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens. You can find a location and make an appointment here.

Histogram of the United States, with respiratory disease activity for each state indicated in a different color based on severity.  Image from the CDC's FluView interactive software. Image from the CDC website.

Dredge your walk / clean the rainwater drains

Despite these early summer swings in November, winter will indeed bring snow and ice. It is very important that sidewalks are cleaned in bad weather. You can even volunteer to tend to sidewalks that others can’t. Remember, it’s not just retirees and dog walkers who use sidewalks. Many children use them to get to school safely, which is a major accessibility issue for people using wheelchairs.

Flooding from heavy rain is a big problemKeeping drains clean helps mitigate street flooding and property damage. Until the terrible weather sets in, do a quick check of the storm drains on your street. It is likely to be clogged with leaves. If you have a rake and you have the physical ability, keep it clear of debris.

Contact your elected officials about what is important to you (Unless it’s voter fraud, because that’s clearly not a thing)

It is important to let elected representatives at all levels know that no hate agenda will be tolerated. Fortunately, Illinois senators are not working to disenfranchise women. Remind them of your position and that you are grateful that they continue to represent your interests in Washington.

Most municipal seats will go up next year, so it’s time to remind current elected officials of your position regarding priorities in CU. These could include things like:

Helping to feed and clothe people in the community

It’s been a tough few years, and things haven’t improved for many. Corporate greed continues to drive inflation. Energy costs are rising dramatically for everyone. There’s not much we can do about it locally, and with the cost of groceries rising, the holidays can look different.

With that, here’s what you can do.

You can donate $25 (or more) to the McKinley Church & Foundation’s Thanksgiving Basket Partnership with Garden Hills Elementary School. The school will provide Thanksgiving packages to food-insecure families in CU. According to the website, “$25 turkey and $55 a full basket will save one family.”

Daily Bread Soup Kitchen is run entirely by volunteers and feeds people in CU daily. Consider making a financial donation or volunteering.

Jubilee Café has been feeding more people since the start of the pandemic; You can find out more about donation and volunteer opportunities on his site Facebook page and website.

Did you use warm clothes gently? Cunningham hosts its annual events Enoch Miller Sr. Warm Winter Equipment Donation Campaign. They look for gently used (or new) coats, jackets, gloves, mittens, and hats. Donations will be accepted for the Town of Cunningham at 205 W Green Street in Urbana.

Blood Donation

There appears to be an ongoing shortage of blood donations nationwide. We wrote about it earlier this year.

You may be able to donate bloodAnd, if you can, please. You can register to donate locally at ImpactLife; Assignments are required.

Mentor Kids

Big Brothers Big Sisters in Central Illinois It is a well-established program that brings together low-income, disadvantaged young people from single-parent families in our community with mentors called ‘Adults’.

Volunteering to be big is a big time commitment, so another great option is to volunteer CU one-on-one. CU One-to-One connects one teacher to a student in grades three through seven. It is only one hour per week and it is done in the student’s school. This means that you do not need to worry about hosting a child in your home or finding a suitable place to meet. You just need to want to show up for a kid who might need a dependable adult in their life.

White hands holding a paper that reads Photo from CU One-to-One Facebook page.

Supporting the weak and the historically excluded

The rights of every person in this country are not guaranteed. Those who are members of historically excluded and/or marginalized communities are the most vulnerable. Allies are not good enough. If the pursuit of a diverse, inclusive and equitable society is vital to you, you must put meaningful actions behind your words.

Planned Parenthood It is an excellent place to start if you want to support women’s health and wellness. As the only abortion provider in Champaign-Urbana, Planned Parenthood in East Central Illinois must remain an option for women in the area. In good news, the Champaign Clinic is now able to offer surgical abortions. Remember: Planned Parenthood provides health care for women, men, nonbinary, and transgender people.

UP . Center She does a great job supporting LGBTQ+ people in our area, offering all kinds of resources: community events (Pride Festival, Queer Prom Party), support groups, education and training, pantry, and a community of people who care. Consider becoming a sponsor (donate), volunteering, or joining a board of directors.

Additionally, there are many black communities in CU, and you can support them by shopping at Black-owned businesses and dining at Black-owned restaurants. Consider donating time or money to NAACP of Champaign County. Attend city council and school board meetings to amplify the black vote. Don’t assume you know what black residents or parents want. Talk to your black neighbors. You don’t have anything? Look at the history of re-planning and current zoning practices to understand why.

Support for new immigrants to CU by Volunteer with the New American Welcome Center or apply for a job vacancy. If you have the ability to speak other languages, offer your time and expertise through one of the many programs supervised by NAWC.

There is so much you can do to contribute to your community this holiday season.

The editorial board is Jessica Hammey, Julie McClure, Trud Namara, Patrick Singer and Mara Thacker.

Best images from the Champaign Urbana Public Health District Facebook page.

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