By Anna Stern

“The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.”

-Helen Keller

For many of us, the end of year holidays can be quite a hectic time of year. Between juggling school programs, office parties, family get-togethers, travel, shopping, and the end of year crunch at work, the stress can really build up and threaten to dampen anyone’s holiday spirit. But you don’t have to let it dampen yours! The best way I’ve found to skirt holiday stress is to keep the true spirit of the season central to my perspective throughout all the chaos. For me, and for us here at Tri-North, that true spirit is all about giving.

What we have found is that when you engage in small acts of kindness, not only do you spread cheer around you, but in the process, you inspire yourself and others around you. The ripple effect of even simple, small acts of kindness and giving can quickly turn into a profound movement that touches entire communities.

Here are 5 ways you can give back this holiday season and beyond:

Donate to Your Favorite Charity.

Did you know there are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States? This means you are sure to find an organization whose mission serves your passion and beliefs.

This year at Tri-North, we partnered with our friends at Lussier Community Education Center in Madison, WI in their amazing grassroots Holiday Gift Program to help make the holiday season joyous for every family in our community. Their program collects over 450 new gifts and distributes them to less fortunate children and families across the community who otherwise would not have any gifts. We committed to sourcing 200 gifts in support of this invaluable effort and were


overwhelmed with an amazing outpouring of support from our team and local business partners. All of the gifts were sponsored in just 2 short weeks. We ended up donating more than we originally committed to because of the generosity that spread so quickly!

Being of service to others has lasting, positive impacts on communities. Studies also show there are many health

benefits of volunteering, including reducing stress and depression and improving sleep, confidence, and overall well-being. Volunteering this time of year can take the shape of

IMG_0407.jpgshoveling your neighbor’s driveway, helping out at local community centers, or taking the time to send cards to soldiers serving overseas.

At Tri-North, members of our team ring bells to raise money for the Salvation Army every year at this time. Our team looks forward to this every year; it just takes an hour or two of any one individual’s day, and we walk away feeling the impact of the donations garnered with lasting smiles from experiencing the generosity of our fellow community members.

hats.jpgRemember Children in Need.

Generosity can make a big difference to kids in need this time of year and beyond. Many children’s hospitals accept gift donations throughout the year. Check with your local children’s hospital for more information. For example, the

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has a gift wish list, donation drive guidelines, and a year round Amazon wishlist available on their website.

At Tri-North, one of our team members crochets hats to raise money for Santa Without Chimneys, a local effort that provides assistance to homeless children in the Madison area. This year, in addition to donating the hats, she sold hats to our team members to raise extra money for the organization. What started as one woman’s mission and passion rippled into a wave of generosity and community-building in our team.

Minimize & Pay it Forward. 


Many of us accumulate more clothes than we actually need throughout the year. If your family has gently used clothes, coats, and linens, there are numerous non-profit organizations that accept these donations and distribute them to those in need. This is a great way to minimize clutter in your closet and help someone in need.

Every year at Tri-North, we partner with UCP of Greater Dane County in their Cash 4 Clothes drive. This unique partnership benefits both UCP and Easter Seals, as well ascommunity members in need.

We collect donated clothing, linens, shoes, and accessories from our team members. UCP receives funding from the donated clothing which then is sold at affordable prices in Easter Seals’ Savers stores. This partnership has been a great way for our team to clear out their closets while supporting programs and services in our community that make a real impact.

Be Kind to Those Around You.

Kindness truly is contagious.

 At Tri-North, we have a list of 20 Fundamentals that guide our attitudes and behavior. At the top of the list is “create a tone of friendliness and warmth.” We believe that every conversation, phone call, e-mail, letter, and voicemail sets a tone and creates a feeling. We expect our team to pay attention to every interaction and make sure we’re all setting a tone of friendliness, warmth, and helpfulness both in our internal and external interactions. This is deeply embedded in our corporate culture year-round, but it’s good to be extra cognizant of it at this time of year when stress and memories of loved ones who have passed are close to the surface for many of us.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t take much effort to speak and act with kindness. Especially in the hustle bustle of the season, taking an extra moment to actually acknowledge those around you by asking how they are and truly listening to what they are saying can make all the difference for every one of us.

 On behalf of the entire Tri-North team, I wish you joyful days during this season and into the new year. May we all find gratitude for what we have and give what we can to those in need.



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