Sharing the gift of giving with my kids on #GivingTuesday

As of today, my family and I have celebrated six nights of Hanukkah. Each night has been a memorable one as we've been fortunate to fill it with family, friends and food. And, with each night has come presents - and the expectation of getting more presents. I guess it's only natural that our kids can't wait to get through dinner and candle lighting so they can feverishly open their latest presents. But, with six nights into the holiday, and just two nights into December, I'm concerned they've lost sight of the true meaning of the holiday. So, I'm taking action - starting with #GivingTuesday.

Tomorrow my sons' seventh present for the seventh night of Hanukkah will be the greatest gift of all - giving a gift to children in need. We're making #GivingTuesday the perfect excuse to take a step back and think about how lucky we are - and how much we can do for others this holiday season, too.

It's a big year for Hanukkah - it coincides with #GivingTuesday, too

There has been a lot of buzz about Hanukkah coinciding with Thanksgiving (hence creating "Thanksgivukkah") this year for the first time since 1899. But, I think it's important to note that this year the "festival of lights" also falls on #GivingTuesday, a holiday that was started last year as a way for people to give thanks during the holidays.

In a time when we're thinking about what to buy on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, it's nice to shift our focus from getting to giving on #GivingTuesday. And, I think it's worth making some noise about it happening during Hannukah this year, too.

For our Thanksgiving dinner, we served up all of the usual fixings - with the new addition of potato latkes and Hanukkah cookies. Tomorrow, on #GivingTuesday, we're going to light the Hanukkah candles and give a little something to others in need, using the money that would have gone to another present for our sons to do something good for someone else instead.

A family decision to give to AHOPE Ethiopia on #GivingTuesday

Earlier today, I spoke with my sons about the idea of #GivingTuesday. And, together, we discussed various options and ideas of where to donate their next Hanukkah presents. That discussion alone was priceless.

It was great to hear what was important to them - and the types of charitable organizations they were already exposed to here in Chicago and around the world.

In the end, my older son came up with the winning idea. He suggested we make a bigger than planned donation to AHOPE Ethiopia - a cause already being championed by one of his classmates who is spending the semester studying in Ethiopia.

AHOPE Ethiopia is a nonprofit organization that provides nutritious food, safe shelter, clothing, education and medical care to orphans and abandoned children in Ethiopia. The organization is in need of school supplies and my son's classmate has asked her class back in Chicago to lend their support to this effort.

Tomorrow, my sons and I are going shopping - for school supplies for AHOPE Ethiopia. Their wish list includes pencil sharpeners, scissors, erasers, scotch tape, and glue sticks, and we will be happy to purchase them to help make things a little easier, and hopefully a little brighter, for children at the orphanage.

#GivingTuesday reminds us of the good we can do any day of the year

While #GivingTuesday is just one day, I hope that its meaning will stick with my sons all year long. During our daily life, it's easy to lose sight of those around us who can use extra help from local families. It takes time to make time for others, but it's something I think we can and need to do more of whenever possible.

For us, one trip to the store and one shopping cart full of school supplies is a weekly occurrence and something we take completely for granted. That's why I'm glad that we'll be making tomorrow's shopping trip for the children served by AHOPE Ethiopia.

I'm still working through the math of the next time #GivingTuesday will coincide with Hanukkah. But, no matter if and when it happens again, I hope my sons will always want to give one (or more…) of their holiday gifts to others in need. That would indeed be the greatest gift for all of us.

Are you celebrating #GivingTuesday with your family? If so, what organizations are you supporting this year? Please share your stories and suggestions in the comments below.

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