December … the season of giving. Many people give in some way all year round, while others only during the “season” of giving.

Everyone cannot afford to give monetarily, but almost everyone has something to give, and it’s called time. This can include spending time volunteering, even if it’s only one hour each week to perhaps help a senior citizen by doing their shopping, house cleaning, cooking, yard work, or maybe just going by to sit and talk for a spell. Loneliness is especially brutal for some this time of year. There are so many places that need help, now and during all seasons of the year. Hospitals, nursing homes, schools, after school programs and so many other places that are always looking for volunteers, even if only for an hour.

A friend of mine volunteers a couple of days a week at a local hospital by just going in to hold babies for a while. Some of these new little angels are ill or have been abandoned or just need some extra loving care while the new mommy takes a short break after childbirth. Giving birth is no walk in the park! My sister, who lives in New Jersey, is a retired nurse and she told me that several hospitals in that area are always looking for “angel mommies” to come in and hold and love on some of the abandoned babies.

“Cuddling” is the term being used at hospitals around the country to help premature newborns who can’t go home yet. When nurses are swamped with so many other patients, grandmas, empty-nesters, college students and other volunteers step up and give a hand. They can hold the babies, swaddle them, sing and coo to them, rock them, and treat them as if they were their own.

A 2008 Canadian study published in BMC Pediatrics showed that cuddling babies born as early as 28 weeks reduced stress levels for them, especially during medical tests, the BBC reported.

If you’re not the cuddling type, but maybe a person who likes to cook, why not cook a little extra and give some of your goodies to your neighbors who may not have the resources to purchase all they need? Or perhaps they’re all alone with no family or friends nearby to check up on them and show them that someone cares. Or, if you don’t want to cook, how about volunteering at a shelter during the holidays?

The holidays are times of joy and happiness for some people, but not so much for others who have lost a loved one (either recently or not) or they’re divorced and have to share their children’s holiday time with the “other parent.” There are many “seasons” in everyone’s life, so please think about blessing someone with your presence.

This guest column was written by Nellie Bogar, founder and executive director of Youth Village in Fort Walton Beach.