Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Time to Give

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

            Every year at about this time, I devote one blog post to the subject of giving. It can be hard to broach the subject of giving because unless your name is Stephen King or John Grisham or J.K. Rowling, you’re not making millions of dollars with your book sales and your movie deals.

            But you’re still a writer. You get to spend time (hopefully it’s every day, but if not, hopefully it’s at least on a regular basis) doing one of the things you love most—writing. You get to tell stories and share them with the world (or some small part of it).

            You’re living the dream, whether you think of it that way or not.

            But there are a lot of people out there who are not living the dream. They’re in Syria, they’re in Haiti, they’re in drought-stricken Madagascar. There are people in the United States who don’t have enough to eat. They don’t have warm clothes. They can’t afford to give their kids gifts for Christmas. And you don’t have to take my word for it—turn on the television or radio and you’ll hear the stories.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

            That’s why I do the giving post every year: because we’re fortunate. You don’t have to be in the One Percent to be one of the lucky ones, to know there are a lot of people who are hurting, especially at this time of year.

            One of my favorite websites is Charity Navigator (link at the end of this post). I use it every time I’m thinking about donating to a particular charity, and anyone who visits my blog regularly has heard of it because I mention it every year.

            Charity Navigator rates charities all over the world based on two criteria: financial health and accountability/transparency. You can search for your favorite charity by name, by type, by part of the world where they work, etc.

            Online giving to a charity is a common way to donate around the holidays, but there are lots of other ways you can help, too.

            My local grocery store has a “giving tree.” You pick a piece of paper from the tree and that paper has someone’s first name, his or her age, and a couple of his or her wish list items. The thing I like about the tree at the store where I shop is that there are papers with adult names on them, too. It’s easy to forget at this time of year that there are parents and other adults with needs that are probably even more urgent than the kids’ needs. Grocery and other stores all over the country sponsor similar trees, so consider donating to one of those.

            There are also charities (I’m on the board of directors of one of them) which allow members of the community to “adopt” a family for the holidays. This can be a more expensive proposition, so it’s common for groups or businesses to get together to adopt a family.

            Donating at holiday time can be as simple as buying a few extra items when you go grocery shopping and giving them to the local food bank. Lots of stores have a box right by the entrance or exit so that any food you buy to donate can be deposited right there before you even leave the store.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

            But what if you’re not in a position to donate money or food? That’s perfectly fine. How about donating your time or your talents?

            Do you have a couple hours on a weekend after Thanksgiving? Consider contacting your local Salvation Army chapter and volunteering to ring a bell for donations outside a store or business.

            Have you got some neighborhood kids in school? Offer to go in and read to a class. This gives the teacher a few extra minutes to grade papers, work one-on-one with a child who might need extra help, or grab a much-needed cup of coffee.

            Do you sing? Consider joining a local choir for the holiday season. You’ll have to look into this long before the season starts, as rehearsals are often held throughout the fall. Local choirs bring communities together during the holidays and spread joy like nobody’s business.

            Do you bake? Offer to bake for a local Christmas cookie walk. These are great fundraisers for churches and other community groups, so they need bakers at this time of year.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

            There are so many ways for people to help others around the holidays, and I believe when you donate your money, your time, or your talents, you feel the spirit of the season and the joy that can come from doing good.

            And once the holidays are over, please remember that the needs in your community and around the world don’t go away. They’re always there--they just don’t get the same level of attention during the rest of the year.

            I wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season, full of joy and wonder, and I wish you all the best as we ring in the new year.

            If you’d like to take a look at Charity Navigator, you’ll find it by clicking this link.


Charles Gramlich said...

these days, I tend to do almost all my giving locally. Plenty of folks in need in your own backyard most times. Great post.

Amy Reade said...

Thanks, Charles! You're right--there are so many people who need help right in our own communities, and charities like food banks and giving trees help those people.

Sharon Aguanno said...

Nice job, and let me add one. Through my younger years I always did volunteer work especially with organizations my kids were involved with. Now that they are grown and I can't get around like I used to, I now sponser my family and friends who do walkathons and 5k runs. And this is one that I can do all year long! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Amy Reade said...

That's a great one, Sharon. And there are plenty of opportunities to donate to causes like those because there are so many of them throughout the year. Thanks for sharing! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy 2017!

Marja said...

Those trees with tags are great! I love to give anonymously so that no one has to feel an obligation to me. Excellent post, Amy, and I'm glad you reminded us of the joy of giving.

Amy Reade said...

Glad you enjoyed the post, Marja. I like to give anonymously, too, though sometimes that's not possible, depending on the charity. And it is a joy, that's for sure! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Nicole Fitton said...

Such a lovely post Amy, thank you. There are so many good charities that do such outstanding work. Lewis Carroll summed it up perfectly when he said “One of the secrets of life is all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others” Happy Christmas and here's to a fabulous 2017!

Amy Reade said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Nicole! I love the Lewis Carroll quote and I agree with it wholeheartedly. It just feels good to do good. Merry Christmas and Happy 2017!

Linda Thorne said...

It's a good post, Amy. My husband and I are donating to ARC that picks up clothes and other things on occasion. When they called last week I told them we didn't have enough for them to worry about this run. They said they'd take it. By the time we looked through our stuff, we have two large garbage sacks full of good clothes that just don't fit right or suit us any more to put out in the morning. We do give check or cash donations to a few charities. It feels good when we can. Thank you for offering the site that verifies good ones around the world.

Joyce Brown said...

For our Christmas Eve celebration, the adults in my family all give a check for a charity. The little kids still get presents. The kids are getting older and will soon join with us in giving to the less fortunate on Christmas rather than giving each other gifts we don't really need. We chose years ago to give to Harvesters, a year-round food bank that helps address the hungry in our city. Any family could do this at whatever level of giving they can afford. Whoever is the host for Christmas Eve gathers the checks and takes them or sends them to Harvesters in all our names. It's a great feeling to give a larger amount than any of us could give on our own.
Thank you for your post, Amy, and Happy Holidays to all Novel Spaces readers.

Liane Spicer said...

Thank you so much for this reminder, Amy!

Happy Holidays and all the best for 2017!