The Importance of Giving

Giving, Sue Z. Hart, Christmas,

"What to give..."

This time of year, most of us start thinking about what we can or cannot give to the important people in our lives. Some of us will spend weeks looking for the perfect gift. Some will just buy something because they feel obligated while others will make their presents adding a personal touch.

As the holidays approach, we also become inundated with request from organizations hoping to capitalize on our “giving” spirit.  Both my inbox and mailbox, which rarely sees a personal note anymore, is over-flowing with sad puppies shivering in a cage or disturbing pictures of starving people on a dirty street. Salvation Army bell ringers greet us at department stores, foster kids need coats and tots need   toys. All are worthy causes. Non-profit organizations know this is the time of year people are most likely to donate as they open their pocketbooks to buy for those they love they will hopefully remember to give to a worthy cause.

In the hustle and bustle of the season, have you thought about why we give? Mostly I think it is traditional to give for special occasions like birthdays, weddings and of course Christmas. Historically, gifts were given to advance another either professionally or personally by providing them with something they did not have or could not buy for themselves. It was also a sign of appreciation and value of another. While most of us continue to give with the historical motives, it is something we do without much thought as to “why” we give.

I might also argue that we give because it makes us feel good. I love it when I am shopping and find what I think will be the perfect gift. The anticipation of the receivers’ reaction continues to fill me with excitement until the moment they start to open the gift.  I watch with eagerness as they begin to reveal the gift I have so carefully wrapped, anticipating the happy surprise in their face. I love to see the joyful expressions a gift can bring. My grandchildren are at the age where just the joy of knowing there are gifts under the tree for them renders excitement. They love tearing into the presents to find what lay behind the brightly colored paper, and I would suspect a big part of their joy is watching all the adults laugh and rejoice with them. Kids are funny that way; they watch adults and learn from their reactions. When you really think about it, I guess we never really outgrow the desire for approval from others.

So why should we give to organizations? I believe we need to give to our community for the same reasons we give to others; to help them advance their work and show we value the work they do. I had a friend tell me once he always gave money to charity but it was not until he got involved in a charity that he really felt he made a difference. Yes, he still gave out of his pocket but once he got his hands dirty, he realized just how much the money he contributed helps.

Depending on what is happening in our lives we may or may not be able to give time or money, but we should always give. An organization cannot exist without its community. Give what you can. I guarantee that when you give, the receiver will light up like a three year old on Christmas morning. Honestly, isn’t it the joy of knowing you made a positive difference in someone’s day the real reason for giving?

Joy, Giving, Glee    Giving, Sue Z. Hart, Laughter, Joy

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