Reflecting on the Season of Giving

By: Karin Scott
Karin is the Program Manager for Allowance for Good.

When December rolls around each year, I remember a program called Share Joys, which
would raise money for a week in December through various activities at my high school
and then use that money to purchase winter clothing for children in the school system
who needed it. On those early Saturday mornings at Sears, I became an expert shopper –
able to choose a coat, shoes, hat, gloves, pants, sweaters, underwear, and socks for up to
five children in less than three hours while making sure I only spent the allocated amount
on each child. After the chaotic shopping and wrapping of gifts, each shopper dropped off
the clothing at the child’s house. As I ventured into parts of my small town that I didn’t
know existed, I was overwhelmed by the stark inequalities a simple Midwestern town of
30,000 people can have. Though those harsh realities were quickly melted away by the
bright face of the boy who answered the door, with cereal still stuck to his chin from the
mornings’ breakfast. As he clutched the clothes and gave me a gap-toothed smile it was
all I could do to resist hugging the small stranger across the doorway.

Reflecting on giving during this season I am reminded of the boys and girls across our
own country who are more excited to see a new winter coat than the newest action
figure or princess doll. Or the ones who go without dinner most nights yet are supposed
to somehow keep warm during these cold months ahead. And I am all over again,

Flipping through the TV channels and reading my email inbox, all I hear and see are ads
telling me to buy this, save on that, get half price on that thing you’ll use once and then
forget you have. I am again overwhelmed by the amount of things one can purchase, and
what are considered essentials to everyday life.

And like each year before it, I make a promise to myself that I will not ask for gifts, that
I will ask for monetary donations to worthy nonprofit organizations instead, and will
donate whatever gifts I receive. However, after I take a few breaths and get away from
the season’s spending mayhem, I understand that to deprive one’s self of certain joys
does little in the long-term action of giving, and makes one unthankful for what they have
been blessed with in life.

Rather, this season of giving is a chance to refocus from the overwhelming world of
needs and wants. It is a chance to recommit to giving, and maybe to challenge ourselves
to give more in this coming year. To commit to donating more money, to volunteering
in a new place, to offering our skills to a non-profit organization who can use them. It is
a chance to recognize what we have been given in life and to use it for good, not just for
one day, or one season, but for the future.

Go ahead and rejoice over that new tablet, and perhaps use it to look up new volunteer
opportunities in your neighborhood, and those new boots will certainly help you walk to
that after school tutoring program down the street. Do not be overwhelmed by the material
things and the ever-complicated social problems, but use your passion and your gifts to
recommit to giving this season.