The holidays are right around the corner! Last-minute gift giving doesn’t always mean scrambling to the mall, in fact some of the most thoughtful gifts don’t require any shopping at all.
To lift the emphasis off consumption, we've rounded up some gift ideas that give back to the ostomy community. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of resources this year, there are ways to make the “giving season” more fulfilling — for you and the ostomates you love.
Focus on experiences that support the supporters.
Sometimes the best gifts are experiences we can share with each other. It’s surprising how a one-day event can translate into a life-long passion for a cause.
Have some FUN, FEARLESS, FELLOWSHIP with Gutless and Glamorous. Founded by Gaylyn Henderson, this organization plans meet-ups for those living with chronic illness and/or ostomies in the Atlanta area.
The Undy Run/Walk isn’t your everyday run. This underwear-themed event supports national prevention, research and patient support initiatives at the Colon Cancer Alliance. Join the fun and hit the streets in your briefs as they kick colon cancer’s butt, one city at a time.
Smaller organizations usually don’t have extra funds to spend on marketing, so letting your social network know about their good work is another way you can help.
Think small business (and targeted) when giving gifts.
Rather than grabbing something convenient and impersonal from the closest big-box store (which usually happens every other month of the year), take time this holiday season to shop online for ostomy accessories that are unique, beneficial and FUN.
By supporting small businesses, you’re giving back to the ostomy community in more than one way. These owners (many ostomates themselves) have invested a great deal of time, effort and funds into creating incredible products that help improve everyday life with an ostomy.
Give away ostomy supplies that you don’t use.
If you’ve had a reversal or are switching to a new product, you may have lots of unused ostomy supplies lying around your house. Don't throw them away! Here’s a list of places who may want your extra supplies:
Friends of Ostomates Worldwide-USA is a non-profit organization that collects donated ostomy supplies from individuals and organizations in the United States and sends them to ostomates in need worldwide.
Ostogroup is a non-profit organization that helps ostomates in the United States who do not have insurance, or who have insufficient insurance which does not cover their ostomy supplies.
Ostomy 2-1-1 a non-profit organization that provides aid, education and support to the ostomy community. Ostomates in need can scroll through their list of ostomy supplies and request items.
Many local ostomy support groups accept unused donations to distribute to people in need. You can search over 300 US-based groups at United Ostomy Associations of America.
GoodHealthwill a Colorado non-profit organization that collects donations of durable medical equipment and healthcare supplies, and provides them to the public thrift-store style.
Don’t forget, impact doesn’t always have to be about quantity. Just one box of pouches can make a difference in someone's life.
“Go Fund” ostomates facing tough times.
There are ostomates who pay out-of-pocket (retail price) for ostomy supplies – imagine the monthly costs!! Same goes for missing work while recovering from surgery, or medical expenses that are not covered by insurance. If you have the resources to donate cold hard cash, do it! It’s definitely needed.
GoFundMe is a crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for anything from life events to challenging times. It's easy to search for ostomates who have created a personal donation page. We all need a little help sometimes, and the holiday season is the perfect time to let fellow ostomates know we’re all in this together.
The most precious gift you can give is your valuable time.
Community growth involves serving the organizations that serve us. By pouring our time and energy into these groups, we’re quite literally “giving back.”
Spend a day at Friends of Ostomates Worldwide, or locate a UOAA Affiliated Support Group near you to assist with meetings. Consider getting involved with the programs at Girls With Guts, and Youth Rally is always looking for new counselors to be part of their annual summer camp for kids.
But the options don’t end there — think outside the box. Lending a helping hand to someone can be so much better than buying them something. If you have a new ostomate in your circle, they might need some help around the house or with their pets. You could even bring over a home-cooked meal if they're feeling overwhelmed with ostomy life — soft food preferably (and healthy!).
Most importantly, every single person on the planet has something to offer. This could be our time, our connections, our money, our voice, a smile, or a hug — if you want to feel good, do good!