Spend any amount of time reading our blog or social media and you will see that we love the chance to celebrate important and worthy causes that take our attention off our stressers, and help us enjoy and appreciate our lives. We are not talking about National Cookie Day (Friday December 4, 2015), although, cheers to that! No, we are talking about the proverbial cookies spread throughout the month that will sweeten our days as we take the time to embrace them. Friends, we’d like to inform you of the next cookie on your list, and it’s a good one! Mark December 1st, 2015 down on your calendars for National Day of Giving!
What is National Day of Giving?
Traditionally trademarked #GivingTuesday, this special day is globally recognized as a day dedicated to generosity. All over the world, communities, charities, and families gather to celebrate this tradition. While no one would advocate for you to limit your generosity to just one day, this day does come with exciting events that can be seen on the Giving Tuesday website.
Many people can think of a favorite nonprofit organization; for me it would be the Make-a-Wish Foundation or Feed My Starving Children. I try to donate or serve on a regular basis, but Giving Tuesday is offering a chance to win up to $5,000 to your favorite nonprofit organization! How cool would it be to score a nice lump sum for a nonprofit of your choice? All you have to do is check this link for the rules. You only have to be 13 years or older to participate and write a 200 word minimum essay of what inspires you to give. There will be two first place winners, two second place winners and two third place winners.
Another neat challenge on the website is Giving Tuesdays partnership with GoodWorld. GoodWorld’s goal is to unite people all over the world who are donating. GoodWorld pledged to put up to $1 million on the table for donations to nonprofits. In order to participate, people need to add #donate when they make their donation of $20 or more with social media. Full details can be found here.
Although the giving of monetary donations this time of year is crucial for many organizations, the spirit of giving encompasses so much more than just writing a check. Generosity can come in many forms: donating time, mentoring a young person, volunteering at the homeless shelter, organizing a function for the elderly, or even going down to the retirement home just to visit and play a game of cards. The giving of time and love can be quite powerful.
Why Celebrating Giving is Crucial to Your Character Development
Generosity and kindness are qualities that it takes to stand out and become an outlier in life. These are qualities that Dr. John Shufeldt writes about in Ingredients of Outliers.
From Chapter 8, “Kindness: The Art of Paying it Forward” in Ingredients of Outliers.
A Legacy of Kindness
Kindness, of course, isn’t limited to the way that slave owner’s wife or Jim Shotwell demonstrated it in reaching out to Frederick Douglass and Dudley Henrique. For example, consider the story of Agnes Bojaxhiu. Born in Macedonia in 1910, she had become a nun and was teaching at St. Mary’s High School in Calcutta, India when she decided to pursue her dream. With permission from her superiors, she left the convent school to devote her life to working among the poorest of the poor in the Calcutta slums–beggars and children dying in the streets, dirty, unwanted, and ignored. So Agnes, who as a nun had become Mother Teresa, began a ministry she would continue and expand until her death in 1997.
She described her philosophy with these words: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” For nearly a half-century, she gave that unselfish, serving kindness to everyone in her path.
Mother Teresa never forsook her dream. Rather, she perpetuated it, starting homes for the poor, the dying, the leprosy laden, and the unfortunate throughout the entire world. A champion of the unwanted, the unborn, and the unloved–she traveled the world well into her eighties, with a challenge to the “haves for the have nots.” The Missionaries of Charity, which she founded, now has more than one million workers, carrying on her labor of love in more than forty countries.
As an elderly woman, stooped with arthritis and barely 4’9” tall, Mother Teresa was asked how she felt being so bowed by her disease. Her response was classic: “It is not a problem, because I just get closer and closer to those I love.”
She died with just five possessions: two robes, sandals, a bowl, and a Bible. But she died with a wealth of dreams realized and a Nobel Peace Prize, leaving a legacy of kindness beyond measure.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
It’s often the seemingly smallest acts that make the long lasting difference. Helping someone who’s homeless, mentoring a younger person, donating your time and experience—these are simple things that mean a lot.
It may not be altruistic to think like this, but I always get more benefit out of helping someone than he or she seems to; maybe it’s because I typically get an extra dose of humility or perspective along the way.
I realized a long time ago that you don’t need to join the Peace Core, or live in a convent like Mother Theresa in order to make a difference. One of (the many) things that has always inspired me about Mother Teresa, though, is her heart for those who were shunned, and unwanted. There are so many incredible people and organizations that aim to serve populations that often go overlooked. Spend some time thinking about what it is that you have a heart for: kids, animals, women in crisis, families in need, the elderly, the environment, our schools, and then reach out and figure out the best way to use your talents and skills to serve.
We would love to hear how you choose to celebrate the National Day of Giving! Be sure to update us on our Facebook page.
Fore more great December causes, check out our infographic here!