Holiday Giving

For years my family has pegged my husband as scrooge.  If asked what he wants for Christmas he says save your money and buy yourself something.  He is the same way at most any gift giving occasion.  He really isn't a grinch, he simple values a dollar and values the dollars of others. 

I enjoy giving.  Giving to others, giving to charity, giving to my kids.  This year however I seem overwhelmed with the need to save the holiday spending and instead give to charity.  I have small children and I know this is a not cool concept but let's be honest they have more then they could ever use.  I don't want the year to go by with nothing from Santa so I would like to propose a family gift and really great stockings with all the crap I wouldn't normally let them have.  Markers for picasso, Fresh market for Cody, candy to get them on a good sugar high and the rest will be giving to others. 

I would like to see us send warm clothes to kids who wouldn't normally have them, blankets made with love for families in need, hats, mittens, socks, underwear, new toothbrushes and fun shampoo.  Books, art supplies to inspire creativity, soft pillows to rest their weary heads.  Donate food to provide them nurishment and hope in the form of balls, pens and paper to prepare for their future.  The past 2 years my family and our son's school have hosted a book drive that sent 100's of books to the Santa to the Villages program in Kodiak AK.  My parents revived this program in the 70's and it is still going today.  My mom went last year to help deliver the presents to remote villages via helicopter dressed as an elf and said the kids were overjoyed to have a book of their very own.  My kids have shelves of books and we read daily, these kids however rely on everything they own & eat to arrive via a transport.  If weather is bad it will be days, weeks before they receive supplies.   Their greatest gift a book of their own.  I can only pray my children will someday have this amount of humility. 

A huge thank you needs to be extended to a fellow Chicago Now writer, Christine Whitley, who arranged a very special giving opportunity for the CN bloggers.  The Lucky Cast Club was able to adopt two Chicago students aged 5 & 10 for the holiday season.  We had a $25 limit so I had to be creative in shopping.  I wanted them to get what they asked for plus a little something extra.  I got creative in bending the rules by using discount codes, store dollars I had stockpiled & price matching.  Our 5 year old boy requested a book and sweater.  The book was $3.00 on amazon, I also was able to pick up 2 lego's for under $9.  I then went to Old Navy and found great warm sweaters for $10.00 I used my store dollars to get him some warm pants.  Our fabulous 10 year old girl wanted school supplies and art supplies.  Walmart had an amazing art kit for $8, a pack of paper for $3.  I found a really fun jewelry making kit for under $10.  I thought of my 10 year old son and couldn't stop there.  She needed a new stylish backpack to put it all in.  I had purchased a bag from ebags for myself and decided I no longer needed it.  I had a small credit with the store and with the online coupon was able to get the bag for very close to our limit.  The Lucky Cast Club has worked all year to raise funds for our projects.  We have given big to the hospitals who support us.  For $50 we were able to make the Christmas of two precious Chicago residents. 

I honestly can't tell you what we will end up doing this year for our kids.  I know whatever it is it will be modest as we are not of great means.  The one thing that simply hasn't changed is my desire to give.  I have found that even though we have went from a two income family to a one income family this year, when we continue to give what we can to others it always seems to come back.  It may not come back in monetary tokens but it still enriches our lives.  The feeling you get from giving will warm you more then the Ugg boots you got last year.

As we enter the holiday giving season I would love for you to examine as a family how you can make a difference.  Even small opportunities can make lasting impact.  Donate money to Shriner's Hospial for Children, purchase a pair of pajama's for the Lucky Cast Club, Give time and talent to a club or organization.  Coats as winter get's closer will always be a welcome offering to lower income schools, shelters, etc.  What about a pair of boots.  My kids at this age wear winter boots a couple times a winter and then quickly outgrow them, clean them up and take them to someone who could use them.  The Ronald McDonald house can always use supplies.  You have several in the Chicago area.  At your annual christmas party add a food drive.  Come for the festivities and leave a non-perishable food item.  It's not what you give it's that you cared enough to give.

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