The Spirit of Giving

Donations of children’s toys make the holidays bright for many families.

By Ruth Topper

It’s that time of the year when the bell will be ringing as you enter Wal-Mart or other retail establishments.  Yes, it is the Salvation Army’s annual Kettle Campaign.  Does the sound of that bell fill your heart with the “spirit of giving” and make you reach into your purse (or pockets) for some loose change or does it make you feel a little uncomfortable because of all the charities that will be seeking donations of your time, talents and/or money this year?  You may have various organizations (all with wonderful missions) contacting you or soliciting donations.  It always seems more prevalent during the holiday season.  Helping those in need doesn’t need to be painful, breaking your wallet or time-consuming.  It can actually be very uplifting.

Most of us can’t afford to write large checks or don’t have the time to help every organization we come in contact with.  However, there are a few things to consider as you evaluate which charities you would like to help.  I would suggest that you do a little research on the organization:

  • What is their mission?
  • What programs will the donations be used for?
  • Will the contribution help the local community or will it be sent somewhere else?
  • What percentage of the donation will actually be used for the mission/cause versus administrative overhead?
  • Is the donation tax-deductible?

As an individual or family unit you will want to consider what you are able to give.   Remember it doesn’t always have to be money.  It could also be your time, which is also very precious.  Whether it’s the gift of time or money, or a combination of the two, do you want this contribution to go to one organization or do you want to divide it between various charities?  Donations can also be a form of gift-giving for “those who have everything.”

Where I live (Adams County, PA) there is a unique way for individuals to learn about local non-profit organizations.  The second annual Holiday Shopping Spree offers highlights of local non-profit organizations and outlines exactly where and how donations assist those organization’s clients.  Twenty-six agencies are planning to participate in this year’s Shopping Spree which will be held on Thursday, November 29 from 4-8 p.m. at the Gettysburg Hotel.  Each organization will have a display table and individuals will have the opportunity to talk with agency officials about their mission and their needs.  I can’t think of any better way to learn about the needs of our local non-profit organizations.

My son Seth, lends a hand during Holiday Family Outreach 2011. Toy Day offers a chance for volunteers of all ages to participate. What a wonderful family project!

One organization that is close to my heart is Holiday Family Outreach (HFO)an all-volunteer non-profit organization that has, since 1953, provided Christmas toys and food certificates to low-income families in Adams County.  I became involved with HFO about 5 years ago when I volunteered to help on “toy distribution day.” I truly felt like Mrs. Claus that day in December when hundreds of parents came through our church dining room to select toys for their children.  After two years of being a helper on “toy day” I was asked to be on the Board of Directors.   This organization depends on the generosity of many individuals, organizations, businesses and foundations to provide the funds to purchase the toys and food certificates for the families.  Being part of HFO is very rewarding personally and allows me to feel that “spirit of giving.”

The holiday season almost upon us.  I would encourage you to consider sharing your blessings with others in whatever way you are able.

Do you have an organization or charity that is close to your heart?  Please tell us about it and spread their mission.

Also, in case you missed it, see our previous post “Change Your Perspective.”  It may help you recognize the many blessings surrounding you.  And if you are able, please consider donating to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, who are still struggling.  In times of disaster, money is often the best form of giving.  Our article includes a link to the Red Cross.

Blessings to you!

Many thanks to the group ABATE of PA (Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education) for their generous donations to HFO through the years. This photo is from 2010, when they donated $20,000!

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One thought on “The Spirit of Giving

  1. Enjoyed this article, references the technical and spirited side of donating/gift giving, I cannot give a lot usually very little – enjoy giving what I can…. I do receive many request for Food donations – Food Banks, Philadelphia & Children shelters, as that is who I lean towards giving to and also my favorite, the Native American Indian Schools….also, I am always concerned about what you mentioned: What is their mission? What programs will the donations be used for? Will the contribution help the local community or will it be sent somewhere else? What percentage of the donation will actually be used for the mission/cause versus administrative overhead? Is the donation tax-deductible?
    I am sure all donations are used and appreciated.

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