The Holidays and Giving Back
The Holidays and Giving Back
I was listening to my three children the other day (ages 6 and under), as they watched television commercials advertising the hottest toys and gadgets for the holiday season. In a short time span, they announced the (way too many) gifts they would like to receive. I realized these requests were also taking place when walking through the mall, flipping through a toy store flier (you know the really thick ones that come this time of year), or playing with something new at a friend’s house. The bottom line is that they rarely pass up an opportunity to tell me what they want.
It got me thinking about my responsibilities as a parent, and my job to instill in my children the importance of giving back. To teach them to appreciate the lives they have and to look beyond themselves. I decided it was the perfect time of year to focus on giving back to others and making someone else’s life a bit happier during the holiday season. They will of course receive some of the wonderful gifts they desire, but in addition, it will be a year that we think of others in the community who are less fortunate.
Showing generosity does not have to cost a lot or be a grand gesture, nor is it ever too early to start. Every holiday season, through our school and the Salvation Army, we receive a card asking us to provide a gift for a child whose family cannot afford to buy one. A perfect opportunity to go shopping with our kids with the purpose of buying for someone else. This weekend my husband and I took our children to the store to have them pick out a present for the 3 year old boy who was listed on our Salvation Army card. We explained why we were doing this, and they pleasantly surprised us by asking great questions and thoughtfully choosing a present based on the boy’s interests. It was nice to see that even at a young age, children are capable of empathy and wanted to contribute in making this boy’s holiday a happy one.
The list of opportunities to give back is endless. It could be bringing a plate of homemade cookies to an elderly neighbor who lives alone; volunteering to serve a holiday meal at a local soup kitchen; donating used clothes to a homeless shelter; or giving to a charity….all gifts of generosity that make us feel good about ourselves and our ability to make a difference in the lives of others. These acts of generosity can extend throughout the year.
Here at camp, we are involved in our own acts of giving back. This past summer, our CIT’s had the opportunity to plant a garden for the Rock Hill community. A project that will keep giving back year after year. Many of our CIT’s expressed feelings of satisfaction for working together and creating a place that will be enjoyed by so many people. Tali H. thought planting the garden was a lot of fun. “Everyone in town was so nice and so appreciative of what we were doing”.
For the past 11 summers, we have organized a Swim-A-Thon to raise money for Project Morry (http://www.projectmorry.org), a year round youth development organization with a residential summer camp experience component. This past summer our efforts helped raise close to $10,000 for youth in need. Prior to implementing the Swim-A-Thon, our CIT’s spend the day at Morry’s Camp to work with the campers. Rachel H. thought her day at Morry’s Camp was an amazing experience. “It was so cool to meet kids that were around our age and see what their summer experience was like. Morry’s Camp really made an impact on me, and I am so glad that Iroquois Springs does what they do with this program and community service
On a smaller scale, we also donated all the “leftover” visiting day candy and treats (after we had our fill for a day or two) to a local food bank for others to enjoy. It’s these and other charitable moments that provide children with an introduction to the greater world and an increased appreciation for their own lives.
We hope the holidays are filled with great happiness, peace, love and celebration for everyone. Enjoy one another, give thanks, and give back. If you can make a difference in the lives of others, you are on your way to a very Happy New Year!