Planting the Seeds of Holiday Kindness

Since the beginning of the school year I have been volunteering to teach a weekly garden program in my son’s 2nd grade class. Last week marked our final class for the fall.  As a closing activity, I took a few moments to share with the class what I do for work at the Volunteer Center when I am not the “garden teacher”.

I told them that in my job as a Communications Director, I also plant seeds, just in a slightly different way. Everyday I get to plant seeds of encouragement and I spend my days guiding people towards opportunities to volunteer.

“Want to know why people volunteer?” I asked.

Well there are many reasons of course, but some people volunteer in order to share their gratitude for the things they have. Sometimes people volunteer to share their unique skills or knowledge and sometimes they give because they have an abundance of something and want to share this abundance with others.

I then invited the students to join me in planting seeds of encouragement by volunteering their time to teach another what they had learned.

“How cool! This means while we are putting our garden to bed for the winter we still have the opportunity to plant seeds.  As garden experts you now have the opportunity to pay it forward and share your knowledge,” I said.

Together we made plant kits for the students to gift to someone they wanted to teach.

As we’ve moved  into the holiday season, I have been thinking lots about how to continue to plant seeds, share gratitude and give back to others. The holidays while busy, tend to bring out that wonderful giving spirit in all of us. But, here’s the thing, I know  it has been a tough year for many of us who feel we are fighting an overwhelming tide of “isms”. 

In such times when can choose to retreat or we can reach out to those who desire a different approach. In the past year I have been so inspired to see individuals rise to the occasion and let compassion lead the way.

I know for myself when things feel overwhelming what often makes me feel better is simple straight-forward actions where I can see the direct results of my impact. Maybe these actions have an immediate relation to social justice such as showing up at a town vigil or maybe they speak more broadly to the kind of community and values I hope we can cultivate. Regardless of the activity, volunteering does my body and mind good. It helps me push down cynicism and reminds me there are so many people out there with good intentions.

Most importantly volunteering reminds me that, regardless of the climate we find ourselves in, we all have the ability to plant seeds of encouragement and kindness.

I invite and encourage you to lean into that holiday spirit. Now is the time to dig deep, be engaged in our communities and cultivate more kindness. Find a few minutes (It can really take just a few minutes) and give back to whatever speaks to your moral compass.

View our 2017 Holiday Volunteer Guide




Make the holiday brighter for local families struggling with poverty, disabilities, abandonment, or economic strain. Each year 450 families receive gifts, necessities, and food through the project.  Join the effort by adopting, donating and or giving your time to support the project. Learn More



Join with Santa Cruz Good Times and the Volunteer Center in honoring the good work of local nonprofits. 33 valuable local nonprofits have been vetted and selected for this annual online giving campaign. Jump on board for the causes you care about by donating to your favorite. Learn More



Help I-You Ventures make a senior’s holiday special by collecting, organizing, or handing out gifts to oft-forgotten senior residents at assisted living facilities.  Learn More



Blog Post written by Volunteer Center Director of Communications Christine Loewe. Everyday she dedicates herself to promoting the endless possibilities for making our moments more meaningful. 

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