By: Morgan Gaynor
During last year’s holiday season, we encouraged readers to consider spending a little less on their holidays and putting aside some money or time to help the less fortunate. This year, we are doing the same.
We realize “Giving Tuesday” is this week, and we hope it will do a lot of good. At the same time, our plea is independent of that or any other social media campaign. There have always been good reasons to give at this time of year, so we’re not tying this to any recent internet-driven event.
First, a little perspective: the National Retail Federation estimates per person holiday spending at $805.65 for 2015. That’s slightly higher than last year’s estimate of $802.45. For a family of four, this of course means total spending of more than $3,200.
If Americans transferred just $25 per person of this holiday spending from friends and family to poor families, the results would be staggering. Similarly, if Americans volunteered just two to four hours of the time they spent traipsing around malls, a lot more needy people would receive food, clothing, and perhaps presents to give their children.
Donating doesn’t have to require much sacrifice in terms of time or money. As we suggested last year, start by taking a look in your garage for the bikes and scooters your kids have outgrown. Scan your bookshelves for the books they’ve already read. Open your pantry and consider parting with the canned food you don’t need right now. You could even donate one of the two buy-one-get-one-free products you get at local grocery stores.
People can give back just by doing things they enjoy. For example, active people can participate in a wealth of holiday-themed runs and other athletic events during November and December. These types of events typically donate their net proceeds to various worthy causes such as medical research or food banks. These are a win-win for participants: they get to participate in one of their favorite sports or hobbies, while also doing something good for their local communities.
This is not to suggest that active events are the only ones available. There is a wide range of charity events at this time of year. People can do everything from photos with Santa for the kids to wine and beer tastings for adult aficionados. There has probably never been a better time to match a charity with one’s own interests.
To conclude, there are as many ways to give back as there are needs in our local communities. Giving back does not have to be a penance or a sacrifice; in fact, it can be a lot of fun. Please consider donating, participating, or do other things to help the less fortunate during this holiday season. You’ll feel better about all the excesses if you do.
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