Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holiday Giving

During the holidays, we see more hands out and more hand-outs during the giving season. We are giving thanks, giving gifts and, of course, giving what we can to others.
While all this serves great purpose, there are underlying currents that keep my soul stirred. Too often I see people who use donations as a way to make themselves feel better without any real thought to what their giving means to the recipient. In essence, the donor is giving blindly, patting himself on the back and no further thought is given to the charity.
Others give as though it were a burden and they are leveling the karma playing field. Squeezing out donations is a painful process for them and, like giving birth to a child, they see their effort as one that will pay off in the future when the roll is called up yonder.
Some people give because they don't want to be bothered. They give to the first in line and then announce to the rest, "Leave me alone, I've already given."
On the other side of the exchange is the recipient. Asking for donations during the winter holiday season is like shooting into a barrel of fish. Preying on the gullibility and guilt of the average American reaps big bucks. "Please sir, may I have more?"
My point here, lamb chops, is that we need to paaay attention to what we are doing. Give wisely, give intently and give a little of yourself. Give at other times, too. Don't throw out dollars and forget about the needs during the rest of the year. If you are willing to give hard-earned dollars to an agency, know what they do with YOUR money. Pay attention to their needs and respond in kind. Add a little elbow grease to the mix and show a vested interest.
This year, I am supporting a local agency that has some creative fund-raising skills for a great cause. Triad Health Project hosts a "Winter Walk for AIDS" the first weekend of December. Teams are formed and approximately 2,000 people will put forth a united front to help build awareness and funds for an agency that benefits the entire community. Victims of AIDS can seek assistance through the agency; testing is provided to anyone, anonymously and for free; along with other great services.
I also plan to jump in next spring when THP holds their annual "Dining with Friends" event. Each host invites friends for dinner and asks the guests to make a donation equivalent to the value of the meal. For dessert, everyone heads downtown for a huge gala with music, dancing and celebration. Often, dinners are themed with friends dressed accordingly. People arrive dressed for luaus, pajama parties, mardi gras and anything else an imaginative host can coordinate.
All of this is great fun, but AIDS is also a very serious cause and one that has declined in interest in spite of the incline in the infected population. Look around you, see what's out there and give with your heart.
Of course, if you can't find anything that suits you, visit my team's webpage where online donations are accepted!

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