In the midst of the holidays, with constant reminders to express appreciation and give thanks, it’s appropriate to think of those who are less fortunate than we are. 2016 has had no shortage of oppression, injustice, and harsh treatment of minorities, both at home and halfway across the world, so to combat this, we encourage you to have compassion and be aware of other people’s struggles. There are always things that can be done to help whether it’s lending a hand at a local soup kitchen or donating money to Doctors Without Borders. You can make a difference.
If the presents you get for Christmas this year leave you unsatisfied, thinking about civilians under siege in Aleppo may help you regain perspective. For the past five years, Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, has been caught in the cross hairs of a brutal civil war, with the rebels fighting for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. Russia has now allied with Assad and is conducting airstrikes on hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods full of civilians trapped within the city by a blockade imposed by the Syrian government in early July. Of the 250,000 civilians in the rebel-held part of the city, approximately 100,000 are children, according to the New York Times. With food and medical supplies running low, children have become the most frequent and heart-breaking victims of the bombings.
Although the conditions in Aleppo are horrible, the world community should not give up hope or stop caring. One day, when the blockade is lifted, civilians will need medical attention, food, and other supplies, and there are ways to help now to ensure those supplies will be available. UNICEF USA, a humanitarian organization, has been giving aid to the Syrians and Syrian refugees since the beginning of the crisis, and it is dedicated to delivering much needed supplies and giving the children a better future. Along with other humanitarian organizations, including Doctors without Borders whose members risk their lives providing medical attention to the wounded, UNICEF welcomes donations to provide resources for the wounded and the citizens that are left in the city.
So while you’re writing your wish list, remember the thousands of people who are just hoping to find a hot meal or clean clothes under their tree this holiday. By giving back to those in need, you’re making an impact in someone’s life, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Keep in mind that the spirit of the holidays revolve around being grateful for what you have, and recognizing that others aren’t so lucky; take the step and start your 2017 with compassion and generosity.