It seems that right after the turkey gets cold we are hearing the familiar bell of the Salvation Army. It reminds us that this is a season of GIVING as well as RECIEVING.
- Some times you wonder when you see those kettles, or other groups vying for your donation dollars - How Many People Will It Really Help?
Over the years my Sister and I have supported various efforts only to find out how much of each dollar went to administrative costs.
This year my sister contacted her parish office and specifically asked if there were families in the parish who needed help. Of course the answer was yes!
- In more affluent parishes whose members include highly paid professionals, the needy of the parish always have benefactors. Our parish is less affluent with many older members on limited incomes.
We decided that adopting a family or two for Christmas was the best way to serve our community and channel our donation dollars.
- No matter what your religious affiliation - contact a local church or synagogue office. They know who in the membership is legitimately in need. Most church offices are trying to reach out to their members rather discretely to help families in distress. It's like a giving tree, without the tree.
The requests might make you cry. One young man - (15 yrs old) - had one request for a dress blazer. The local school system has a uniform code for daily wear. When there are special programs or reasons to dress up they require the boys to wear blazer jackets. This young man is an honor student. He is embarrassed because he cannot afford a jacket and has to go to these events without one.
This year - he will have one!
To us, nothing is more exciting than braving the holiday crowds filling someone else's wish list. We have been known to get a little carried away. If the child asks for a coat, we usually add a hat, gloves and scarf to the gift. If they ask for one pair of pj's - we get two, or add slippers and a robe.
- Even though we do not know who the recipient will be - they become "OUR CHILD". With all the great sales going on - you bargain shoppers out there can really spread out those dollars.
I'm always amazed that the wish lists do not include frivolous items. The parents do not ask for anything for themselves. They do ask for toys for younger children - but usually nothing really expensive. The biggest ticket item might be a bike.
- People in financial distress and their children are asking for necessity items. Not to say you can't throw in something in addition just for fun! Passes to the local movie theater with a few extra dollars for popcorn would be a luxury for a family, and something they could not afford.
Many churches also have a pantry. Ours will take donations of food in the vestibule. It's pretty easy to add some extra items to your grocery cart and drop them off to the church or pastor.
- Your gifts will go into the hands of someone who is less fortunate. Someone right in your own back yard. Every dollar you spend will be put to use.
Perhaps it has not been a good year for you. Maybe your income was down from last year. You still have so much more than the families who lost jobs this year.
PRACTICE LOCALISM - Reach out - locally to your community and touch a neighbor in need. Being a Secret Santa will bring joy to your life, a smile to your face and warmth to your heart.
- Our Century 21 office is having a Christmas party next week. Instead of a gift exchange we are using that money to donate to a local charity. There are things you can do, no matter how small to reach out to the less fortunate in your community.
Please also remember the abused and homeless animals in your community.
- Thousands of animals have been left at shelters or abandoned by homeowners who have lost their homes during this crisis. $10 or $20 can feed a couple of dogs or cats for a month. Food or a cash donation to these organizations will go a long way to helping those without a voice.