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Holidays and Holiday Giving

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Raising Philanthropic Children

Raising philanthropic children 2014

I am always so amazed that is the same time each year that I find people asking me for suggestions for raising philanthropic children. As a result, I share this post once again as refresher for all, holidays or not.

While my sons are far from the poster children for philanthropy, they certainly do a lot to help others. I am proud that each of our sons has found different ways to give back and share the gifts that they have been given. My oldest has a passion for serving inner city children. His younger brother is now supporting ALS with his fraternity. The youngest, at 14, is still finding his way but a few adventures to various non-profits throughout LA have his wheels turning.

Each year at Thanksgiving, we sit down as a family and decide what our family will do this season to help others. We have adopted soldiers for a year, adopted families over the holidays that could not have Christmas, we have wrapped gifts at local Childrens Hospitals and voted on which non-profits we want to support. Each person trying to convince the others why their cause is most worthy.

The reality is that there is no simple answer to this question and that raising charitable children is an ongoing process. I read an article recently that said role modeling philanthropy is simply not enough. The article referenced a new study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University. The director, Debra Mesch, said “the research showed that talking to children about giving increased by 20 percent the likelihood that children would give.”

I have shared these tips with you each season but they are always worth reviewing.

Here are a few tips to remember as we approach the season of giving:

Six Tips for Raising charitable children:

  1. Start early, as early as 4 or 5 years old. Giving becomes a habit.
  2. Talk to your children about what causes interest them and bring causes to their attention.
  3. Be intentional by involving your children in your own charity endeavors.
  4. Use online tools to research organizations to involve your children
  5. Be consistent. Make charity a part of your traditions, the holidays and birthdays.
  6. Emphasize the joy because giving feels great.

Benefits of raising charitable children:

  1. Opens children’s eyes to the fact that others are not as fortunate as they are
  2. Develops empathetic thinking
  3. Fosters an appreciation for what they have
  4. Enhances self-esteem
  5. Correlates to improved performance in school

While this topic is relevant for the holidays, it is important to remember that giving does not just happen once a year. Teaching the gifts you receive from giving should be a part of the year, not simply the season. Once your children feel how great it is to give, their lives will forever be altered in wonderful ways.

Charity Matters.

 

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#GivingTuesday

GiveTuesday 2015

As Giving Tuesday arrives tomorrow, it seems to be in stark contrast to all other messages being sent our way about sales and holiday giving. First its Black Friday, next its Small Store Saturday and today is Cyber Monday. While the names are catchy, what is the meaning and the purpose?

In 2012, the Giving Tuesday movement began to create a national day of giving to support favorite non-profit organizations. Initially there were 2,500 partners and today in just three years it has grown to over 30,000 organizations in over 70 countries.

Giving comes in other forms besides money, it can be the gift of time or resources. So think about what organizations you care about and ask yourself the real question. How can I give tomorrow?

 

Charity Matters.

 

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The Morning After

The morning after Norman-Rockwell

Another Christmas has come and gone and it is the morning after. Today, is really one of my favorite days of the year. There is no pressure to please, no need for a perfect house, gift or outfit. Today is a day when we stay in our robes, sip our coffee slower, wade through piles of wrapping paper and assess the aftermath of Christmas.

More than that, it is the day that the pace is slowed, the memories cherished and the stomach and heart are full.

There is simply nothing more glorious than the morning after…

Charity Matters

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Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child

With the millions of non-profits just in the United States, I often feel like my job is like looking for a needle in a haystack. To make the search easier, I have tried to keep the focus on people helping people in the United States. I have also tried to avoid politics and religion,  for the same obvious reasons that you don’t discuss them at holiday parties either. When searching for a holiday non-profit that shares the joy of the season and spreads the message of Christmas, I found myself breaking most of my rules this week.

The reason was because of a cause called Operation Christmas Child, which is part of a larger non-profit called  Samaritans purse. Their mission is to help the poor and suffering of the world, and yes there is a little religion mixed into the formula. However, once I saw the faces of these children and how easy it is to bring Christmas joy….I needed to share.

One of the ways they accomplish this mission is to have people put together a shoe box for a child with toys, school supplies, tooth paste, a handwritten note and a picture of the sender which are delivered all over the world to the neediest children.  The beauty is in the simplicity and the sheer joy of giving.

If  you are looking for a simple way to spread the love of Christmas for a few dollars, or looking for a project to do with your children creating a Christmas box  is simple. That is why 113 million of these have been sent since 1993. That is a huge amount of Christmas, joy and love.  At the end of the day, Christmas isn’t about rules it is about spreading love to all…

 

Charity Matters.

 

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It is better to give….

it is better to give...westjet14

You have heard me time and again talk about cause marketing, you know, using goodness to promote your brand. If there is one company that has done this so right and brings tears to my eyes each year it is this one…..

Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you are selling and just as the video says,” It is simply better to give than to receive.”

 

Charity Matters.

 

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Charity Matters Quotes: Giving

“For it is in giving that we receive.”

St. Francis of Assisi

CM-giving ChristmasVacation

Its Friday and the Christmas season is here! This weekend many of us will get our trees, begin to pull out the boxes of decorations, order our holiday cards or start some Christmas shopping.  All of these are acts of giving.

We decorate to give our families and neighbors a sense of our holiday joy, those Christmas lights are for them. The cards that we agonized over and spend late nights addressing are gifts we are sending to those that we love.

The shopping, is no different. We do this because it is more fun to give than to receive.

This holiday season think about the act of giving as you complete each one of these tasks. My guess is that rather than feeling like a chore, it will bring you joy in knowing that you have made someone else’s day, view or holiday a little bit brighter because you gave.

Charity Matters.

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#GivingTuesday

Giving tuesday 2013

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is now ready to jump into the season. It is the most wonderful time of the year and it is December 1st today, so the holiday season has officially arrived. I know that the stores have been telling us since before Halloween that Christmas and the holidays were coming but we all know that this season is really about, love and giving.

Just like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, we now have an offical day to give called Giving Tuesday.  Giving Tuesday  was created to promote the simple act of giving to a cause you care about. This day and now movement began as something to counter Black friday and Cyber monday, It was started by New York’s 92nd Street Y, which has 139 years of fundraising experience. They reached out to the United Nations Foundation and joined as partners. Soon after, big corporations and non-profits signed on to help spread the word and the rest is history, as they say.

As you sit down this week to make out your Christmas list, think about adding the causes you care about to your list. Or perhaps, giving a donation in someone’s name to their favorite cause?  Think about how you feel when you give and what is important to you?  Giving Tuesday is a beautiful reminder of what is  important every day of the year, not just tomorrow.  If you do decide to give, there is no time like the present.

Charity Matters.

 

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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween 620x413

Halloween is a mystery to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love all holidays, especially ones that are centered around candy. I think you either are someone who loves costumes, dressing up, being someone else for a day or a few hours….or you’re not.

For me, I love seeing the kids, the happy faces, the tradition and the pumpkins. I love giving away candy and eating it. Whether you are mad for Halloween or your more like me,….I hope yours is spectacular!

Wishing you all a very Happy Halloween!

Charity Matters.

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We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

“At Christmas, all roads lead home.”

 Marjorie Holmes

NormanRockwellChristmas

I hope that this post finds you enjoying your Christmas with family and friends and savoring every moment.

I hope Santa was good to you too!

Wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas!

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2013 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Charity Matters Quotes

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”

 W.T. Ellis

Christmas giving 1930

Today is the day my children get out of school for Christmas break and the joy is palpable. This is the last Christmas that all of my children will live under the same roof and I must confess I am a bit melancholy. I am so looking forward to Christmas and yet I am mindful of how quickly these holidays seem to pass. This year my nostalgia is running deep.

As I dash around to finish the last-minute details I am determined to savor every moment, every laugh and all the chaos that comes with a house full of children and focus on what matters. In this moment, it is the blessings of family.

Have a joyous weekend!

Charity Matters.

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The Miracles of Christmas: Matthew’s Hope

Matthews HopeIn searching for a Christmas miracle story to share with you, I came across an incredible family and am blessed that when I reached out to them, they agreed to let me share their story. It began in November 2002 when Bud Hanley began writing letters to his unborn son, Matthew. This is his letter.

 

My little Matthew,

 

Good morning, my sweet baby boy. We miss you so much and wish God had allowed you to be with us. Your short life has changed ours and has impacted hundreds of others. We started a non-profit organization in your memory called Matthew’s Hope Children’s Ministry to help other children in our community. I could write a book sharing the many miracles that have taken place through Matthew’s Hope, but I’ll just share this one for now . . .

 

When Mommy was pregnant with you in the fall of 2002, we decided to pick out a needy family and buy Christmas gifts for them on our own. Our church and Sunday school class had done this and we always participated in that, but never had we done it ourselves . . . Our local schools send home an information sheet to the kids who are in need and the families fill it out with requests and sizes . . . Me and Mommy looked through the sheets of paper and one stood out to us.

 

It was a 12- year-old boy with a two-year-old nephew. They lived in a pretty bad home situation. The older boy, Chris Bagwell, returned his sheet to school and asked for socks and underwear and “if possible” a football. He asked for the same for his little two-year- old nephew and “if possible” a fire truck. That broke our hearts and impressed us that a 12- year-old would ask for such minimal and basic needs . . .

 

We loaded those boys down with everything from new jeans, shirts, shoes and coats to bicycles and footballs and fire trucks…and yes socks and underwear. Mommy went and bought the stuff the day before Thanksgiving and came home that night and we wrapped it all up with your big sister “helping” us. She was two years old at the time . . .

 

Then our nightmare began. The day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 30, 2002, your Mommy’s water broke and our ordeal began. You were born and died on December 18th. We flew home and buried you on December 21st. That night, we went and delivered those gifts to Chris and his little nephew.

 

I can’t begin to describe how happy and grateful that little boy was. He had never had such things before. It helped us so much to see the gratitude in his face and his words. He helped us as much as we helped him; he just didn’t realize it. He was so proud of what we had given him.

 

Well, several years passed and we often wondered what happened to Chris because he had impressed us so much. He even worked with his uncle to help bring in some money for his family.

 

We later started Matthew’s Hope and have helped many similar families since then. In the Spring of 2008, two women from Belton-Honea Path High School approached me and asked if we would like to provide a scholarship from Matthew’s Hope. We decided that would be a good idea and instructed them that our criteria would not be necessarily the straight “A” student, but rather a kid who had overcome bad circumstances and did well anyway.

 

They brought us several essays that students had written about why they deserved a scholarship and we chose one that seemed to stand out to us. The scholarships are given every year at a ceremony at Erskine College called the Evening of Excellence. Mommy and me went that evening and presented the scholarship to the recipient after briefly sharing a little about Matthew’s Hope and why we were doing it. It was a nice evening and we went home. We had just walked in the door when the telephone rang. Mommy answered the phone and all of a sudden the color drained from her face and she put it on speaker phone.

 

It was the young man to whom we had just given the scholarship.

 

He said, “This is Chris—you don’t remember me do you? But when I was 12 years old, you and your husband brought Christmas gifts to me and my nephew.”

 

Matthew, when he said that, I thought I was going to pass out . . . He went on to tell us that when we brought those gifts at age 12, he realized for the first time in his life that somebody loved him.

You see how God works? . . .

Love,

Daddy

One of Bud’s last letters to his son.

Dear Matthew,

My son, you touched so many lives and you will continue to touch lives. As long as I live, I will tell of the miracles I personally witnessed . . . I will make you these promises . . I will work tirelessly to cause good to come from your life. I will tell the world about you to motivate people to help others in your memory. I will let your life be my testimony and I will share it with as many people as God gives me the opportunity . . .

   I will one day meet you in heaven. Until then, I will continue to live because I know you live . . . I know that your Papas and Grannys in heaven will take care of you . . . Hang in there my, little man, Daddy will be home soon.

Daddy

When I reached out to the Hanleys this past weekend and asked permission to share, Bud said to me, “Coincidentally (or not) Wednesday, December 18th would have been Matthew’s 12th birthday.” A true Christmas miracle full of love, family, faith and giving.

Charity Matters.

 

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Charity Matters Quotes

“Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.” 

Janice Maeditere

xmas opening heart

And so the count down begins, 9 days until Christmas!  Less than two weeks left to soak up the spirit of the season and too open up our hearts to the magic of the holiday. While we begin our week with shopping list, cards to address and gifts to wrap, lets give our selves a moment to stop and enjoy all the wonder that surrounds us.

Charity Matters.

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Christmas in the City

Christmas in the city

Can you hear the song playing now? “Ring a-ling, hear them sing, its Christmas Time in the City.”  I am always looking for inspiring people and stories that make our world better and this family has created a holiday classic even better than the song it is named after.

It all started 23 years ago, in 1989 ,when the Kennedy family from Boston (not sure if there is a relation) saw the excess that their children had on Christmas. These two amazing parents, Jake and Sparky, wondered how they were going to teach their children what the season was really all about? They simply wanted them to understand the spirit of Christmas, of kindness, goodwill and the gift of sharing. Their solution was to take the holiday tradition that they had with their family and bring it to others, that didn’t.

So the following year, the Kennedy’s expanded their Christmas tradition with the help of their friends, co-workers, and clients all volunteering their time and donating gifts and money to provide Christmas for those that didn’t have one. In that moment, Christmas in the City was born.  The first year 165 mothers and children from Boston Homeless Shelters were guests at a party at Boston City Hall, with holiday decorations, games, a holiday meal and a gift for each child that the child had asked Santa to deliver.

In the two decades since, Christmas in the City  hosts over 3,000 children and parents from homeless shelters from Boston and surrounding communities.  More than replicating the Kennedy’s Christmas morning, these children now experience a safe environment, filled with food, entertainment, a Winter Wonderland with games, rides, a petting zoo, activities from the Museum of Science and the Children’s Museum, and each child received a personalized gift from Santa which they had wished for.

As if that wasn’t enough, Christmas in the City also distributes toys and gifts to almost 2000 families who can not be accommodated at the event.

The Kennedy’s small gesture to share the joy of the season has now become a year round affair because Christmas in the City simply could not turn away those they have cared for.  In addition, they now provide a Thanksgiving food distribution for families in need; an Adopt- a-Family program to assist families transitioning from a shelter to their own home; assisting homeless families in providing support to help find employment, financial aid and legal advise, daycare and other help to get back on their feet.

What began as a way to teach the joy of the season to their own children has become a teaching moment for all of us blessed to witness the magic of Christmas happening all around us. Cue music….Ring a-ling, hear them sing, soon it will be Christmas day….

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2013 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Giving Tuesday

Giving tuesday 2013What is Giving Tuesday and why is everyone talking about it?  First of all, you might want to mark your calendars because its tomorrow. GivingTuesday™ is a national day of giving at the start of the holiday season. The purpose is to celebrate and encourage charitable activities in support of non-profits.

This day and now movement began as something to counter Black friday and Cyber monday, It was started by New York’s 92nd Street Y, which has 139 years of fundraising experience. They reached out to the United Nations Foundation and joined as partners. Soon after, big corporations and non-profits signed on to help spread the word and the rest is history, as they say.

 

While Giving Tuesday is just a few years old, it is definitely not going away. Last year alone, over $10 million dollars in online donations was processed, which was a 53% increase compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, the year before.

We all love holiday shopping but really the point is to give. So tomorrow, think about what cause moves your heart, who you can help? Maybe giving to that cause is the gift you give to someone else or perhaps just one you give for yourself.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2013 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.