One of my journalist friends here pointed out that November marks the beginning of Silly Season.

Australian culture — with it Aboriginal and Anglo-Saxon roots — is actually quite Mediterranean. Lunch break shopping trips gets longer, the days are hotter and more humid and time spent in the air conditioned pubs and restaurants picks up. There is a languor that has taken over the still moist air.

The school year is coming to an end and the long December and January holiday for kids and teenagers is on approach. Tired minds are already wandering to the long unpeopled stretches of beach.

This is also the time where many among us think about giving. Call me a slow learner but over the months I’ve realized that developing a fleeting sense of belonging comes from giving. Not giving and expecting something back. Not material gifts. Just giving of myself.

You may remember at the beginning of this journey for belonging here in my fourth country, I wondered what kind of volunteer work I could do. I thought it would be a good way to connect with people, to help and to give. And now, I’ve got a couple of new projects underway. Ways I can make a difference, help others and learn a lot in the process.

Did you know that 18% of children in Australia live in poverty, according to the Australian Council of Social Service? That’s a little less than the US (22%) and more than Canada (14%).

I believe that one individual can make a difference.

So, this week I’ve been running around collecting boxes and printing out posters for my daughters’ primary school. We’re gathering used books and pencils and drink bottles and other school supplies to send to a primary school in an under-privileged area near Brisbane. At this school, a quarter of the kids arrive without their full book packs. Here in Australia, even at state or public schools parents have to provide notebooks, pencils, markers, and all school supplies. Some just can’t.

My daughter made up one of the posters last night and I’ve printed out other fliers for teachers and students.

It’s exciting. It’s helping. And it’s giving me a good feeling. Maybe it isn’t quite belonging but it is connecting and contributing.

So as we move into the Silly Season let’s remember that one of the key components of belonging is giving.

Belonging can neither be manufactured nor bought.

It’s a gift.