December is a month full of friends, family, and celebrations for so many people. Often, celebrating involves family and friends, fun, food, and maybe alcohol. December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, and this stands as a good reminder of how vital it is not to drink and drive. The simple choice of deciding to drive home after a party is not simple at all. Intoxicated driving can result in serious injuries or death of oneself, passengers, or other drivers. Choosing to drive after drinking is a decision that can affect so many people. December is a time many take as an opportunity to give back to the community and those in need. Donating to organizations in need, signing petitions for unjust issues, attending a protest, posting on social media, or just speaking up in everyday life are all ways to make a difference. Giving back can also apply to more than just humans. Animals are a huge part of so many people’s lives, and the benefits and unconditional love they give humans are unmatched. Giving donations to a shelter will help animals live better lives and those who choose to add them to their family.
National Impaired Driving Prevention Month
December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, previously known as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. This event looks to educate on the consequences of impaired driving due to drugs or alcohol, especially with Christmas and the new year approaching as these are prevalent drinking times. Driving under any influence can be incredibly dangerous and even deadly. Choosing to drive when intoxicated does not only affect the driver. It can affect others on the road, passengers, and friends, and families of all involved. One choice can mean the difference between life and death. In 2018, there were 10,511 traffic fatalities due to driving under the influence. That equates to about one death every 50 minutes.
While taxis have existed for quite some time, more safe ride businesses have sprung up within the last few years, making it even easier to find a safe ride home. Most people have smartphones with the capability to book a ride through the business’s app. People can book a ride whenever they need to, and it generally does not take long to be picked up. Drunk driving has declined to 29% when it was previously at 41% in 1985. It is always wise for a person to have a plan before going out to drink. If it is at a friend’s house, maybe stay there and if it is at a bar, designate a sober driver or call for a ride. It is a simple choice: drive or don’t drive. However, the possible consequences are nowhere near simple. Make a plan. Call a ride. Drive sober.
Drug & Alcohol Addiction Resources:
https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline - (1) 800-662-4357
Operation Santa Paws
Not only is December a popular time for giving to humans, but it is for animals too. Operation Santa Paws is an initiative to gather supplies, donations and to advocate for animals in shelters. Pets can make such a positive impact on a person’s mental and physical health. They are good listeners even though they cannot talk back, and they are there for their human when they are struggling, and they assist in any other number of ways. Many people love the idea of adopting but cannot own a pet due to lack of funding, time, or already having a furry friend. However, adopting a pet is not the only way to make a difference for shelter animals. Donating items like food, toys, blankets, or other necessary items helps give animals what they need and may allow for the money the shelter saves to be allocated to a different place in the shelter. Monetary donations are also significant because they can help pay for food, medicine, and medical assistance such as surgery. Pets give humans more love and support than thought possible; maybe humans should give a little love back when possible.
Info on effects pets have on mental health
Contact local shelters about donation needs
Safe Toys and Gifts Month
Christmas is quickly approaching, which means gifts will also be coming into question. The perfect gift for a loved one often takes consideration; however, this consideration should go to the next level for children. Toys must be appropriate to the child’s age and ability. For example, toddlers should not receive a nerf gun or roller skates as they are not developed enough to safely use these toys. Most toys will have an age mark on them saying not to give the toy to children under certain ages. Having precautions put into place can increase the safety of children and decrease potential harm they may face, such as suffocation. Simply taking the time to do a bit of research before purchasing a gift is an easy precaution to keep children safe.
Maybe a tangible present is not the right fit in the first place. Whether a child is younger or older, an experience can be just as fun as a present. Christmas does not need to be a financially stressful time. Spending time with family and friends, visiting local events in the area, or even baking cookies together can be more than enough of a gift this holiday. Christmas is less about giving presents, and more about spending time with loved ones.
More Info on Safe Toys
If you need to speak to someone about assistance with food, housing, utilities, or seeking counseling, you can set up an appointment by calling 618-345-5848 and asking for Leah, our student social worker, or by contacting the email: email@example.com.
*This post was written by Leah, Caseyville Library's student social worker from SIUE.