The end of the calendar is a season for celebration and giving of gifts across cultures and religions. Whether we celebrate the season socially, commercially, or spiritually, we understand this is a special time to do something nice for someone else. ‘Someone else’ could include our circle of family and friends, those we work with, or the larger social community including those who we do not know on a personal level.
Regardless of age, race, religion, or nationality, the spirit of holidays and a dawning of a new year draws us out of our cocoon to show a little kindness and generosity in the world we share. And often we do that through giving.
Some of us give within our relationships of family, friends, colleagues, and business partners. Others give to people they do not know out of charity and goodwill. And, let’s face it, sometimes we give in response to peer pressure…because everyone else is giving!
We give to create a positive experience. We want other people to feel appreciated, cherished, and valued. (And we want to feel good about our giving, too.) Sometimes we create this experience by giving physical things like toys, gadgets, and fashion. Sometimes we create an experience by giving our time and effort. While your underlying reason to give may be the same, how you create that experience can differ widely.
So, what’s on your list for giving this year?
The commercial world would like you to fill up your giving bucket with things that you buy: books, toys, electronics, household appliances, footwear, clothing, furniture and fittings, and more. There’s nothing wrong with monetized gifts. I give these myself and don’t hesitate to accept them either. But this is not the only way to give. We can also create a second bucket of giving that looks like this.
- Give mom a big hug everyday
- Take an evening walk with granny
- Buy a child an ice-cream to fulfill a promise
- Take a piece of borrowed clothing to the laundry before you give it back
- Visit an orphanage to read books and play games
- Clean up a homeless shelter
- Write a one-page letter to encourage your boss
- Write a personal note to inspire the other members of your team
- Inspire your suppliers and partners with a card of appreciation from your teams
- Stop to pet a friendly dog or cat
- Pick up and throw away a piece of random litter on the sidewalk
While not everyone can spend to give, each of us can certainly give without spending. A three year-old learns to give hugs to her parents everyday. A teenager can take a walk with his grandmother or sit with his grandfather, sharing his own interests and listening to whatever interests them. A parent can make amends by fulfilling a pending promise. An adult can give empathy and care in the spirit of “doctors beyond borders”. And an elder in the community can share wisdom earned and learned from a lifetime of precious experience.
These are all examples of living by giving and serving others – often without spending a cent.
The National Voluntary and Philanthrophy Centre (NVPC) of Singapore organized a Giving Week from 1-7 December. They invited organizations, businesses, charities, and individuals to participate in a nation-wide movement to develop a culture of giving. After all, a successful nation needs strong hardware – and strong heart ware, too.
Uplifting Service partnered with two non-profit organizations during Giving Week. We taught pro-bono service classes with Daughters of Tomorrow, an organization which helps single mothers of low income build skills and confidence for employment. And we visited the Senior Activity Center of the Peace-Connect Neighborhood, a community which provides inter-generational living facilities, support services, and engaging activities for elderly residents.
That’s what’s on our holiday giving this year. Please write and tell us – what’s on yours?
We wish you all a wonderful New Year and joyful season of giving!