Holiday Donations: Knowing the difference
We’re closing in on the holiday season. It is my sincere hope that everyone who reads this has a joyous one, with full bellies, surrounded by loved ones, and wonderful memories are retold and made.
We know, however, many in our area are without in one or more of these categories. We are also aware it is the time of giving. This year, I am personally asking you, whomever is reading this, if you choose to donate in any way, shape, or form to any person in need or organization that helps, please use your heart. I’m not asking you to overextend your budget or yourself. I’m asking you to be decent.
Please do not “donate” junk and consider it a charitable contribution. What I mean by this is: 1. Don’t drop expired foods at the local pantry. 2. Don’t contribute broken, poorly made, horribly abused clothes, toys, household items to Christmas programs. 3. Don’t see these “donations” as items for which those in need should be grateful.
The season of giving is about wanting to contribute something special with your whole heart; if homemade goods are allowed, great. My most cherished items are things like quilts from my favorite neighbor, memories of another kind neighbor bringing us baked goods from her kitchen, a plaque made by a friend, etc. They’re precious because someone took time, considered the recipient, and gave with their heart.
I am fortunate enough, this year, not to need to reach out for holiday assistance for my family. It wasn’t long ago, however, I did need a help to get some things for my kids so they had a present or two to open. I was grateful we qualified.
Until, that is, I received the items – broken toys, spoiled food, clothing items that honestly looked like they were dug up from the Grand Rapids Dump when it still existed. I was heartbroken and even more humiliated than I already was to ask for help.
Others I know, who’ve been in those shoes, have also expressed their body-consuming embarrassment having received similar – including last Christmas. It made many of us feel as though we were considered sub-human. And, it left many of us in tears as our kids had nothing for Christmas Day.
People in need include: single parents whose hours have been cut, veterans with families, parents with disabled children, grandparents raising their grandchildren, foster kids who’ve done nothing wrong, and so many more faces we see every day. They go to your churches, have post-secondary educations, work 60 hours a week, and are so much more than what some think. Above all else, anyone in need is a human being, just like you and me.
So please, if you choose to give, give things you would want, you would eat, you would glowingly hand to a loved one and/or hug them warmly for giving to you. You don’t need to hand out iPads and Xboxes. A popular toy, inexpensive and in its packaging, is wonderful. Clothes a step down from what you give your children is great. New stuffed animals, knock-off Legos, things that will last for a bit…
And please, please do not disrespect my beloved Marine Corps Toys for Tots program by throwing something in a box that has no business being contributed. Charitable organizations can only work with what they’re given.
So again, please, if you choose to donate, donate with your heart. I wish you all a blessed holiday season.