Friday, November 30, 2012

The Giving Tree

December is a time for giving.  Some of it is for the holidays, giving gifts for Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza or just because.  Some people give at the end of the year to get a big tax write off.
 My parents always believed in tithing their 10% to the Adventist church. So I grew up tithing when I earned my first $10 cleaning classrooms at GBJA and that has stuck with me my whole life. I have wavered and wandered in where I choose to send my tithe, but I believe the principal in the Bible still stands.  When you give you will be blessed. I’ve seen it and I believe it. Give it a shot. 
Whatever your reasons for giving, if you have a chunk of cash that you’d like to blow through this December and you don’t know where to spend it, here are some tried and true Dixit options that you may want to put on your GIVING TREE: 
  • FOOD A couple of months ago, I got a memo in my kids backpack that our school’s PTA was starting the Blessings in a backpack program.  This is a nationwide program to give food to the kids who may not be eating enough over the weekend.  Kids in need get free or reduced breakfast and lunch in public schools.  (Tax dollars at work).  But don’t you think they get hungry on Saturdays and Sundays?  What about vacations? I cried when I got that memo.  There are kids who sit next to my kids at school who are hungry?!!!  Give to Blessings in a backpack online.  You can even specify which school your money will serve. 
  • SHELTER Some people are down on their luck this holiday.  Grassroots is a homeless shelter here in Howard County that provides food, housing and support to families that need money or resources to get back on their feet.  Think of something to give that could make their holidays special.  
  • SAFETY Domestic Violence Center of Howard County I'm not ready to tell any personal stories for this one.  I’m already feeling sad.  Domestic violence happens, and children are often the pitiful victims.  When mothers and their children leave their homes, they often take nothing with them.  You can make a monetary donation or how about giving them a stack of new pajamas?  There’s nothing like starting a new life with something new to wear to bed, when you are feeling your most vulnerable. 
  • EDUCATION After working at 3 different schools in Howard County the last 5 years, I’ve seen firsthand that there is a discrepancy in resources between the have and the have-nots, despite what the school budget report says.  Why is it that some schools have loads of technology, and rock climbing walls, and awesome libraries and some schools have nothing?  PTA.  The Parent Teacher Association, meaning the parents of the students in the school, have the ability to make big ticket donations….if they have money to give.  Yes, some parents at Clarksville Middle School  share Mimeo Boards and Christmas gift cards with our staff, while some parents at Talbot Springs Elementary School cannot afford to feed their kids over the weekend.  It’s enough to make you weep!  If you are looking for a school to donate money to, look to a local elementary school in a poor neighborhood.  Talk to the principal and see what they need.  A good principal will have a wish fund that may entice you to write a check. 
  • A NEW LIFE A couple of years ago I got to hear Wes Stafford, the president of Compassion International share his personal story and his mission to help children.  He was an amazing speaker and writer.  Check out his book Too Small to Ignore  It really did change my view of poverty.  I am a bit of a skeptic, especially about big organizations that claim to "help" children in other countries.  But after reading his book, I'm a believer in the monetary and emotional support that sponsoring a child can bring.  We sponsor 2 children and I hope to see Tracy and Daniel  grow up to lead amazing, productive lives. I want to be a part of those lives.  

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