After surviving a flood of birthdays, at times it feels like my entire family was born between March and June, I started thinking how holidays have had shopping crammed into part of their traditions. From there, as usual, my mind started branching out into a thousand different directions. My last thought settled on writing a blog about how people can make donations that are appropriate for these different holidays and celebrations. Of course, that does not mean you can’t mix up your charities for the different holidays. I think it is safe to say, they could all use a little help all year round.
Birthdays are a time to celebrate the day we were born. For many of us, gone are the days of wanting half the Toy’s “Я” Us Catalogue. If you are like me, many of the things you “want” that are affordable you go out and buy and the things that you have not gotten are too expensive for a gift. So rather than telling people about the things that you want for your birthday, why not have a list of charities that help causes you are passionate about.
http://www.charitynavigator.org: Charity Navigator can help you find those smaller non-profit organizations that might not be as recognizable as The Red Cross or World Wildlife Fund, but are just as vital to improving the world we live in. It breaks down expenditures and rates how effective charities utilize their donations.
Hanukkah was not originally a “gift giving” holiday. That came about because of influences from the Christmas Holiday. A gelt (coin) was given for correctly answering history questions related to Chanukah. This tradition reminded the Jews of their freedom from Syrian rule and to share with people in need. It also allowed poor families to have enough money to burn candles during Hanukkah.
March of Dimes: Dedicated to preventing birth defects and infant mortality. It seemed like an appropriate charity to add here, since it has become associated with and named after their annual fundraising event that asked children to donate a dime. Gold Coin / 10¢ Coin. Let’s just go with it.
Christmas has become the biggest consumer holiday. Most retail stores do the majority of their business around Christmas. Black Friday has become a tradition in itself and the only reason it exists is because people are looking for a great deal on their holiday shopping.
Gift giving comes from the three Magi presenting the baby Jesus with gold, frankincense and myrrh. By giving presents to our loved ones we are showing these people how much we care for them.
Toys for Tots: The U.S. Marines collect toys from October to December and then distributes them to disadvantaged children, so they can experience the joys of Christmas. I am sure many adults would appreciate a child getting a gift instead of them.
Prison Fellowship: Their goal is to restore prisoners to the community and church as contributing members. During Christmas they provide gifts for prisoners’ children who are in financial need. Children should not suffer for the sins of their father/mother.
Make A Wish Foundation: Since 1980 their mission has been to enrich the lives of children with life threatening diseases. What better gift than to grant the wishes of children fighting for their lives.
Easter has become a very colorful Holiday. Fusing the resurrection of Jesus with the pagan springtime festival, we ended up with a large bunny leaving children chocolate eggs and baskets full of goodies.
House Rabbit Society: Bunnies made it into the Easter tradition because of their association with fertility. We all know rabbits breed like….rabbits. This organization rescues abandoned rabbits and educates the public on rabbit care.
After hearing about Mother’s Day, Sonora Smart Dodd first started celebrating Father’s day in 1910 at a YMCA in Spokane, Washington. Because of several factors, including the fear of commercialization it would not become a permanent national holiday in the United States until 1972. It is now celebrated around the world as an appreciation for the wonderful things our dads have done for the family all year long.
FIGS: If you must get your dad the traditional tie, why not get it from FIGS. FIGS donates school uniforms to impoverished kids in Kenya, Tanzania and Nepal.
In 1908 Anna Jarvis chose a day to celebrate her mother and was able to make Mother’s Day a national Holiday, in the United States by 1914. It only took till 1920 for it to be commercialized. Despite Anna’s disappointment in this turn of events, Mother’s Day is now celebrated around the world to show appreciation for all the wonderful things our moms have done for the family all year long.
Arborday.org: Rather than getting flowers, plant a tree in celebration for what they have done. It cost less and last longer than a bouquet of flowers.
Thanksgiving traces it roots to a 1623 harvest in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1777 Congress made it a national holiday. The history of Thanksgiving gets a little muddled, as we grow older and learn more about its origins. However, when we all gather around the dinner table it is a time to be grateful for all that we have, just as the original pioneers were grateful for their bountiful harvest.
Gift Exchanges are not a common practice at Thanksgiving. However, overindulgence and eating way too much food is. Not only do we gorge ourselves the day of but then despite our best efforts eating leftovers for days we still end up throwing out tons of food. Perhaps we can take some of that food money and spread it around for those who are not as fortunate.
Heifer International: Donate livestock to communities in need to help fight hunger, poverty and environmental degradation. This fits perfectly with the tradition of celebrating a bountiful harvest.
Feeding America: Donate money to help feed the hungry or volunteer at your local soup kitchen. (The link takes you to their Food Bank Locator page in order to help you find a soup kitchen in your area.)
Meals On Wheels: Providing meals to hungry seniors in their homes and at congregated locations.
Valentine’s Day was originally a celebration of the saint (possibly saints) named Valentinus. Today it is a time when we express our love by giving people flowers, candy, cards and a variety of other tokens of our affection.
Red Cross: Donating blood is a wonderful way to directly touch another person’s life. With over 38,000 blood donations needed daily and less than 38% of the population eligible to donate this is a vital service and need.
American Heart Association: Heart disease and stroke are the top causes of deaths. Rather than send a card shaped heart or box of chocolates what about helping save a real heart.
National Holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc..)
National Holidays are not typically associated with gift giving. However, it is a time when we gather with friends and celebrate through big meals, fireworks, and lots of decorations. Perhaps it could be a time to “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” JFK
VA Hospital: Help the veterans that served their country more than most citizens ever will. If you think Jury Duty is bad, imagine what these men and women have sacrificed.
National Forest Foundation: Help preserve our natural resources, so future generations can enjoy the diverse geography and natural beauties unique to where you live.
Firefighters / Police Officer: Police and Firefighters put their lives in danger, so that we can be safe. When they are killed in the line of duty they leave behind families. This might be the perfect time to show those families we appreciate the sacrifice they made by helping them. Contact your local fire or police department.
*I am sure there are people who would prefer a gift for the holidays but whenever you get asked, “What do you want for..?” maybe you can have a list ready to go that is both personal and befitting of the holiday being celebrated. If Amazon can have a “Wish List”, why can’t we have a “Donate List” of charities we would like to support?