Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

A Season of Giving

First off, I want to make clear my motives in telling this story are not to pat myself on the back or to boost myself up. I’m telling you this because it is something I think is important.

There have been a lot of news articles and blogs floating around about how not to rush the holiday season, make it less stressful, and so on. I even wrote about how I’m trying to not be so rushed and feel the pressure with gift giving. For me, I decided for myself in early November that I wanted the holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas to be special.  I am blessed with an abundance of love and gifts in my life– it is time I pay it forward.

Volunteering for a cause of some sort has been in my mind since August, but I’ve struggled to find a place that would fit my interests/abilities and my time schedule. I have not given up my hunt yet and it is one of my top priorities for 2013. So without a place to devote my time to, I went to the next best thing –donating goods.

I give frequently throughout the year to various charities, but never in big amounts- always a $20 here and there to friends doing fundraisers for marathons or swims across the bay, animal rescues, or the like. I am a dutiful subscriber to PBS and NPR. Well-loved books go to my local library; gently used clothes and household items go to Salvation Army. I’m not quite a bleeding heart, but I feel it is important to put some money and donations to things that are important to me, as well as to help out people who don’t have the opportunities that I do.  These things are great and I applaud everyone who does their small bit to give back, but to me they felt too passive.

On my 30×30 list is a desire to serve at a soup kitchen or food bank on a major holiday. I haven’t gotten that done yet either ( research in process for Christmas as we speak). It was important for me this holiday season to do something active to contribute and really put meaning behind the phrase “season of giving.”

At Thanksgiving, I made a holiday meal basket for a family in need. For Christmas, I adopted two families to play Santa for. While the early drop off deadline made me start my Christmas shopping a bit earlier than usual, it was so enjoyable to shop for people I did not know, especially since it involved two children. I haven’t bought fun toys and games in years. These kids are getting some really awesome games, Legos, and of course, necessities like jackets and hats.   I just dropped off the first family’s load of gifts this morning and the volunteers were so thankful. I can’t wait to do it again for the second family. On a side note, in each family, at least one of the children asked for either board games or puzzles. This makes my heart so so happy that there are still kids who don’t want everything electronic.

Again, my motives in writing this are not to sing my own praises and boost my ego. I am telling it more as a call to action because we are so caught up in our lives that we miss the opportunity to do a little good, even if in small ways. I certainly understand budgets being tight- with both families, I have only been able to purchase gifts because of deep holiday discounts and coupons, but it was important for me to set aside some time and money for this. It’s easy to make a contribution- so many businesses ask for a $1 donation at checkout to support local charities or to buy a toy for a needy child. Many businesses, churches, or libraries have “giving” trees where you take an ornament with a child’s name and one gift wish on it. It’s heartbreaking to me how many children ask for hats, gloves, and winter coats for Christmas. It’s sobering to think that being warm is their number one priority when they are at an age they should be playing and having fun.

So whether it be donating to a local soup kitchen, donating blood, or just dropping a $1 in the Salvation Army bucket at the grocery store, I hope you all can take a moment or two out of the busy holiday season and do something to give back. It will bring endless amounts of good to those in need and bring you endless light and joy that no material gift can match.

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