During the Christmas Season, Remember the True Spirit of Giving

christmas-spirit-blog.jpgEvery year, starting in the middle of November, I’m frustrated and disappointed by the amount of attention given to Black Friday and the material aspects of Christmas. Most of the time, when people camped out in front of stores on Thanksgiving are interviewed about their motivations, they talk about buying things for themselves rather than using the holiday sales to buy gifts for others. The spirit of Christmas is not about buying the latest electronic gadget. This is a time when we reflect on those who may not be able to afford presents under the Christmas tree, or who will be separated from loved ones during the holidays. It is a time of generosity toward others by giving of one’s spirit, not just giving material things. This is a time when we hold our loved ones close and celebrate the blessings we have been given.

That’s not to say that many people don’t give generously of themselves during the holidays, both financially and with their time and efforts, to help others. But it’s also a shame that so many people wait until the Christmas season to demonstrate this spirit of generosity. Need knows no season, and the people we serve turn to us for help all 12 months of the year. Some of these people struggle due to unemployment, homelessness and the burden of intergenerational poverty. Others have been devastated by recent natural disasters, like Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. These people will still need help come the spring and beyond, long after the Christmas season has passed.

The importance of donations from individuals can never be overstated. Philanthropy makes a critical difference in the lives of people we serve. It helps us fill gaps in existing funding to create new services in response to emerging needs. Our nation has a strong tradition of giving that has broadened access to health and human services, fostered an appreciation for our history and cultural heritage, advanced scientific and medical research, and supported a variety of other programs vital to the health of our nation.

During the Christmas season, or any time of year, we at Volunteers of America hope everyone remembers the true spirit of giving and focuses on helping those in need. We invite you to learn more about our recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, and to help us make a difference in the lives of others throughout the country, please visit www.voa.org/spiritofgiving.

Thank you,

Mike King