Good morning SOTGC readers. Here is another post by the lovely Bridget Venus Grimes. When I read this post before pre-loading it into the blog, I started to tear up. I took a look at my childhood, how privileged I was to have two loving, involved parents who made sure my brother and I wanted for nothing, and I wish I could have been less selfish towards the underprivileged children my Mom used to bring around us as part of an outreach program she was involved in. How many times do we forget how truly lucky and blessed we are? We have a house to go home to, we know exactly where and when our next meal will be, and the idea of “not getting a holiday present” is so foreign to most of us that it actually makes us stop and think for a minute. Thank you Bridget for sharing this, and for reminding us what giving is all about.
This is a time of year when people spend a lot of money on gifts. I follow the statistics of Black Friday sales, the strategies retail stores employ to increase sales, same store sales versus last year, and other numbers to see how companies and the economy are faring during this time of excessive gift purchasing. It is apparent that many of us get caught up in the buying frenzy. The stories of people lining up overnight at department stores for the outrageous deals and the unbelievable altercations over consumer goods are really eye opening, and to be honest, disheartening.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the holidays and I love the idea of gift giving. It brings me great pleasure to buy gifts for my children that I know make them happy. But I think that our gift giving can make an even greater impact. As a friend of mine pointed out over lunch yesterday, we have children who are truly blessed. Our children are loved and cared for. They have safe homes, food and shelter. They truly want for nothing, and we work hard to provide our children with this quality of life. At this time of year with a focus on giving, I would like to offer that we reconsider how we spend some of this money so that it truly makes a difference.
My friend runs a successful company that considers outreach an important part of their company culture. This year they have partnered with an organization that helps at-risk adolescent boys and truly transforms their lives. As part of the support of this organization, donors are sought to provide Christmas gifts to the boys. My friend shared with me that some of these boys have never received a Christmas present.
For $100, a donor can fulfill the holiday wishes of one of these children. So on a recent shopping expedition, my friend found a gift that was perfect for the child she is sponsoring and she pointed this out to her teenaged son. His first response was not that this was a great idea and would fulfill this child’s wishes, but rather that this toy was about the cost of a video game he wanted and that she had recently denied him, and that if it were up to him, she should buy him the video game instead.
My friend realized that it was a terrific teaching opportunity. At the holiday party for this organization, my friend and her son will present the gifts they’ve purchase for the child they have sponsored. Her son will have the opportunity to meet this boy and the others at the organization for whom these gifts may very well be the only Christmas gifts they receive. While this may not seem like a life-changing event, incorporating her son in the giving process, introducing him to others who are not nearly as fortunate, will hopefully make an impression on him.
I mention this single instance of gift giving because I feel that by teaching our children the importance of giving they will become better people. By helping them see through the eyes of those less fortunate, we hope that they learn to help others. The gesture my friend and her company has made to help these boys is a small one, but the point is that the smallest amount of effort can have tremendous impact on the lives of others. I will continue to give gifts to those I care about, but I will carve out a portion to those for whom a gift will truly make a difference.