Home > activism & good works, christmas > It’s Better to Give Than to Receive

It’s Better to Give Than to Receive

Monday, December 6, 2010, 14:30 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Helping handShortly after World War II ended, an immigrant man and his family were in a car accident. His wife’s head went through the windshield, his son had a fractured skull and needed surgery, his other children were hospitalized with lesser injuries, and the man himself took several weeks to recover enough that he could go back to work. Those were the days before disability insurance, and the time out of work took a financial toll on the family. But one day, shortly before Christmas, someone from the Salvation Army arrived at the house with bags full of groceries, gifts for the children, and new holiday outfits for everyone. The family recovered from their injuries and the man returned to work, eventually retiring. But until the day he died as an old man, he instructed his children and grandchildren that they were never to walk past a Salvation Army kettle without putting something in.

Two generations later, a single mother was struggling with a chronic illness. Though she managed to hold a job through her illness and also had family nearby on which she could rely, she took pains not to let anyone know of her difficulties or ask for help. But a group of people approached the agency where her therapist worked and asked if they knew of a family who could use some help at Christmas. Because of those generous strangers, a child received a bunch of wonderful games and toys and the mother even got a few things for herself. Not a Christmas goes by that the mother doesn’t try to repay that kindness by helping some other family she will never meet.

We all hear about organizations making charity appeals around the holidays. What we might not realize is that those who benefit from such organizations are real people, often just like us. Many of them never thought they would need help from strangers, but once they do, they never forget it.

Many of us engage in some sort of philanthropic giving during the Christmas season. If you are looking for worthwhile agencies to which to donate money or items, look first to your own community, to churches or civic organizations that collect gift cards, food, toys, new clothing, or other items for people in your area. Also consider national organizations that work within local communities, such as the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots, The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, or the Red Cross. I can guarantee that the people you help will be grateful, but even better is the feeling you will get knowing you made a difference for someone else.

I know all this because the man and his wife who were helped by the Salvation Army were my grandparents, and the single mother who received gifts from the group of strangers was myself.

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