Thanks to the famous song, everyone knows that “there’s no place like home for the holidays.” But for millions of hospitalized patients and the healthcare workers who care for them, being in their home for the holidays simply isn’t an option.

My mother has been a nurse for the past 20 years, and growing up I remember her always working during the holiday. Selfishly, I would have loved for her to stay home with us, but knowing the difference and impact she was making on other families made it all okay.

Many hospitals do everything they can to help the patients feel more at home. They will decorate, have special guests like Santa stop by, host charity events, and more. They pull out all the stops during the holiday season just to bring some joy to patients, visitors and employees who spend their time inside the hospital.

This year I have decided to challenge myself and find ways I can give back. Here is a list of ways to give back to local hospitals.

  1. Give your Time. Sitting down and listening to there needs. Spending quality time with them telling stories or reading books.
  2. Brighten a Patient’s Day. Send an uplifting card, or bring them some baked goods. It is all about the little things.
  3. Give toys. Many hospitals have toy drives for the children.
  4. Adopt a family. Help a family in need by checking off some of their Christmas list items.
  5. Donate. Charities are always in need and every penny helps.

Remember that not everyone will feel like celebrating in hospital, but it may mean a lot to have visitors willing to help. Also, remember to be thankful for your family and friends, and their good health. Many of us take being home with our family on Christmas Day for granted, so I hope helping and spending time with the less fortunate will be a reminder of the true meaning of the holiday season.