The Spirit of Giving

female open hand gesturing towards the words GIVE BACK surrounded by a relevant word cloud against a blue bokeh background

Right on the heels of Thanksgiving, many of us celebrate a season of giving. We may celebrate one or more of the winter festivals of light—Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or others. With light comes hope, and with hope comes compassion and caring.

We may celebrate Solstice and the change of seasons. With appreciation for Mother Nature comes a sense of nurturing the earth and those around us. We may look forward to the new calendar year and set new goals. Often that comes with a wish for more meaningful time with family, friends, and community.

We may not celebrate any particular holiday or season but care very deeply for people in need in our community. As an AgeWise King County reader, you probably care about older people in need and older people in general.

Please consider ways you can demonstrate care and compassion for older people in your family and in the community. I’ve got some suggestions.

  • Family, friends, and neighbors—give the gift of time! As people age (all of us), relationships change (think retirement, relocation, and end of life). Too often, older people experience a gradual reduction in time spent with their loved ones, and sometimes live in social isolation. Gift giving? Often, experiences together are most cherished.
  • Senior centers—give the gift of time and talent! Senior activity centers are teeming with people who are socially engaged. But senior center leaders have needs—building maintenance, event support, workshop leaders, and more. Contact the director of your nearest senior activity center to ask how you can help, even a few hours each month. See Senior Centers in King County and Senior Hubs in King County.
  • Assisted living and nursing care communities—give the gift of time with residents! Got a few extra hours each week? You could visit with residents, read aloud, work on puzzles, and more. LeadingAge offers a Find A Community feature that allows you to search by zip code. Contact managers and ask what is needed most. Also, see the article in this issue about the Long-Term Care Ombuds program—another meaningful way to share but in multiple locations.
  • Help older people prepare their tax returns! Taxes are a fact of life, and tax preparation is something people of all ages may struggle to complete. See the article in this issue about United Way of King County’s Free Tax Prep campaign—there are multiple roles, so don’t worry, you can participate without any tax prep expertise.
  • Help older people get the food and nutrition they need! See the article in this issue about World Food Day. So many older people are under-nourished. Food Lifeline provides an interactive map of food banks and meal programs throughout King County. Contact the site nearest you to see if you can help sort food, measure bulk items, greet clients, interpret or translate, or donate grocery bags. Find out what is needed most.
  • Find other ways to support older people on Don’t worry—this isn’t a dating app, and you don’t have to register to get information. Visit, click on the Seniors button and, if it’s your first visit, enter your zip code. As of late November, there were 323 opportunities to support older people in the greater Seattle area. Many of these are virtual activities that you can participate in from the comfort and safety of your own home.

I hope you noticed that each of the suggestions above has to do with your time and/or your expertise. If you’re short on time but longer on money, you can also make year-end charitable contributions that support older people. You may find leads in the links above or elsewhere in this issue of AgeWise.

I would also suggest that each of our Community Living Connections partners—who provide professional information and referrals to older people at no charge—are worthy recipients of your financial gifts, large or small. Visit the About Us page and scroll down for participating agencies.

Finally, I cannot pass on the opportunity to mention advocacy on behalf of older adults and people with disabilities. The Seattle-King County Advisory Council for Aging & Disability Services is all about advocacy. Once again, your time is more important than your money. For ideas of ways you can get involved in local and statewide advocacy, contact Advisory Council coordinator Sariga Santhosh (

In this season of giving, please know that your care and compassion makes a difference. You make a difference. Wishing you a warm and rewarding December and new year!

Joe HaileyContributor Joe Hailey chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services. He welcomes input from readers via e-mail (

Interested in joining the Advisory Council? Visit for more information. To apply, click “Join Us” on that page.

This article originally appeared in the December 2022 issue of AgeWise King County.