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The spirit of giving

I hope that this article finds you in the presence of family and friends as we prepare to gather and celebrate another magical season of festivities. Earlier this month, we conducted our 2022 Toys for Tots distribution. This day was a culmination of many months of work on the part of so many kind and generous people and businesses. I could fill this entire paper with the names of those who assisted in so many ways. In addition to those who gave so much in time, talent and resources, I want to also thank those who were on the receiving end that exhibited so much gratitude towards our efforts as they picked up their toys on Saturday afternoon. There is an old saying that the greatest gifts are those given with love and received with gratitude, and I can attest to the existence of these elements throughout this year’s events.

 

This year we served over 100 families with over 260 children. These numbers do fluctuate over the years as new families are added due to unforeseen circumstances in their lives, and some families do not return as their circumstances have improved. That is the essence of this and any charitable program; that it is there for those who need it, and there to be supported by those who are able to do so. Having been part of the Toys for Tots program since 1991, I complete each season with both a sense of exhaustion and accomplishment, hopeful that a difference has been made in the lives of children in our community.

 

There is another part to this experience that many miss, and it is as important if not more so than what I have described thus far. In our giving, we always hope that a difference is made. We derive a great level of comfort in knowing that our efforts made a direct and measurable impact in the lives of those whom we have given to. But what if it hasn’t? What if our efforts haven’t changed the circumstances of those receiving those gifts? What if, despite our greatest efforts, people continue to make life choices that negate our efforts to improve their lives? What if our generosity doesn’t warm the hearts of those who receive it? I would submit that we do it regardless of the actual outcomes. We do it because it is in the giving, sharing and loving that our own hearts are nourished. We derive an intrinsic benefit to our own wellness both mental and spiritual by doing good for others. That personal benefit is not dependent on the ultimate outcome of those efforts, but merely in the efforts themselves.

 

I was in Madison a few years ago, and there was a gentleman with a cardboard sign asking for money. As I was stopped at the traffic lights anyhow, I took the opportunity to give the gentleman a few dollars. I will never know what he did with that money. Maybe he was able to get himself a warm meal, or maybe he immediately went and purchased some alcohol or drugs. In the end it doesn’t matter. I drove away with a better feeling in my heart, and an optimism that I helped another human being.

 

This is the real theme of the Christmas season that should carry on in each of us throughout the year. To give without question. To love without condition. To sacrifice without hesitation.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

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