The Joy of Giving this Festive Season

joyofgiving_adriannacalvo

The Joy of Giving this Festive Season

It’s December, and Christmas is just around the corner. With Christmas carols being played in malls and on the radio, and festive decorations all around, the Christmas spirit is well and truly in the air. To many, Christmas is a joyous time of giving and receiving, and it is not uncommon for people to make use of the season to spread some Christmas cheer through charity.

For that same reason, many charitable organisations are more active during this period, knowing that the festive season tends to evoke more desire to give back to society and help those in need. For those that choose to give back during this season, there are a variety of ways to do so. You can donate canned food and other non-perishables to food donation drives, donate some toys for children in need of presents this Christmas, volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen, or even drop your lost change into any of the Salvation Army coin tins.

It’s definitely good to see more people giving back to society in the spirit of Christmas, but at the same time it’s extremely easy to get caught up in the warm fuzzy feelings that envelop us during this season, such that we sometimes forget that giving is not just about feeling good ourselves.

Here are some things we need to remember when giving this Christmas.

Charity Should Be Given All Year Round

Our charity and kindness should not be reserved just for Christmas, or any other season where it makes us feel especially good to be giving. We need to remember that the spirit of giving should be with us all year long. Many charitable organisations tend to get overwhelmed with donations during December, but the donated items tend to stop coming in once the year passes. By the time the middle of the year comes around, there are hardly any items available for a someone who may need it.

It’s great that people are giving more in December so that everyone, and not just the more privileged, can enjoy Christmas. However, it’s important to remember that people need our help all year long and not just during the festive season. So whether you are donating or volunteering your time, try to find time throughout the year to do it too. You’ll find that the spirit of giving is actually always around, and not just a Christmas miracle.

Give with the Recipient in Mind

When you want to donate to charity, it is important to understand that the receivers of your gifts are people too. Some people see donation bins as an opportunity to get rid of old stuff. Giving away things that you no longer have a use for is of course, much better than simply throwing them away, but these items also need to be in a good condition. Imagine receiving a torn and tattered toy, book, or tee-shirt on Christmas; it wouldn’t feel very good to receive that would it?

On the other hand, there are people who go out of their way to buy gifts for less fortunate children to cheer them up during Christmas. These very generous people sometimes buy multiple toys, which would definitely cheer any kid up, but there ends up being an abundance of toys and a lack of essential items to give out to those in need. It’s not wrong to give toys, but sometimes essentials such as clothes and food are very much appreciated too.

Get to know the people you are helping

Those who volunteer on a regular basis really take the time to get to know the people they are helping, but for those whose volunteering takes place on a one off basis during Christmas, there really isn’t a chance to connect with people. Volunteering is not just about helping people for a day, but it’s about getting to know them, getting to know their problems, and hopefully be able to do something to really change their lives. Nobody wants to be a commodity that only gets noticed at Christmas time. If you have a chance to take part in long term volunteering, take the time to get to know the people you are helping, and let them get to know you too, as friends and equals.

Giving is not about yourself

As much as it feels good to give, especially when you’re caught up in the festive cheer, remember, giving is not about you. So don’t just give simply because it makes you feel good, or to earn some bonus points for your school community involvement projects or corporate social responsibility. Give because you want to give, to benefit the receiving party, and not yourself. So get giving this Christmas, both to your loved ones, and to those in need of a little more love this season; and always remember, the season of giving can be any day you want it to be, or even all 365 days a year!

Photo: Adrianna Calvo