DECEMBER: Santa Paws, human rights, 3D prevention & spiritual literacy

DECEMBER 2014—The first month of winter in the Northern Hemisphere is often described as a season of light. That’s an affirmation of faith in a month with the least daylight hours of the year. Christians celebrate Christmas; Jews light candles for Hanukkah; and it’s Yule for Wiccans and Pagans.

This month is also known as the season of giving. Consider some of the programs with special December campaigns …


Make the holiday season a little brighter for dogs and cats in your community, as December is Operation Santa Paws. A national initiative to supply animal shelters with much-needed items, Operation Santa Paws encourages the donation of everything from pet toys to blankets and towels, money and food. (Find more ideas here.) Businesses, schools and places of worship can set up a box for donations—just email [email protected] for a JPEG version of a poster to post on donation boxes. Toys and blankets help to drastically reduce stress in animals waiting to be adopted.


Following the atrocities of World War II, world leaders began work on a document outlining basic human rights—eventually producing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. An agreement adopted by the United States General Assembly in December of 1948, the Declaration was proclaimed as a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.” (A simplified version of the document, for youth, is here.) The Declaration touched on rights in areas like politics, economics and culture. Each year, December 10 is kept as Human Rights Day, and that commemoration spans the entire month.


Holiday invitations pile up during the month of December—but don’t forget your responsibility to keep the roadways safe! December is National Drunk & Drugged Driving Prevention Month. If you think these issues won’t affect you, consider this: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 3 in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lives. (For tips, awareness campaigns, resources and more, visit Before heading out to a holiday party, keep these tips in mind: Plan ahead; always designate a sober driver; and take the keys of anyone who has been drinking and intends to drive. Hosts should provide both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for their guests, and ensure that no guests leave without a safe driver.


Celebrate the unique and colorful characteristics of the world’s religions this month, during Spiritual Literacy Month. Places of worship, communities, libraries and families can promote respect among the world’s spiritual traditions by encouraging learning and reading. This is a good time to reach out to someone of another faith, and greet him or her for a holiday formerly unknown to you. Gain a greater understanding of world cultures. In need of resources? Read through archives or by category of ReadTheSpirit’s Holidays & Festivals column.