CHICAGO, November 28, 2011- Black Friday came and went. Cyber Monday is here. The Christmas shopping season is off and running. Money will be spent on everything from creme de la creme gifts to pure unmitigated junk.
Along with the gift buying sprees, people will be shopping for their Christmas feasts, and depending on their religion or ethnicity, their Christmas Eve late night feast too. Money will be spent on the ubiquitous office, company, and other holiday parties.
Fancy clothing, ribbon, wrapping paper, trees, decorations, and other collateral goods will be purchased.
All the various things that make the Christmas Holidays what they are will be bought and sold. Cash registers will be ringing right along with the Christmas bells.
People, no matter their economic situation, will spend money on Christmas; whether they can afford it or not. Christmas is the season of giving, celebration, and feasting. And we do splurge for Christmas.
Christmas should also be a time to give to those less fortunate. It is the one time of the year a panoply of charities ask for money to help the needy.
Now, we all know the economy is in the dumps. We are still in a recession, no matter what the White House or its mercenary economic spokespeople say. Times are tough. But, they are even tougher for those less fortunate and those who are the most vulnerable.
So, while you are eyeing that flat screen television you don’t need or another game to waste time on, think about giving to charity. Today, cyber Monday, is as good a day as any. You are on the internet spending anyway. Find a good charity, one that actually helps people, and donate something. Make Cyber Monday a boon day for charity as well as retail businesses.
If you are out and about buy a toy for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program and drop it off at one of their local collection points.
The Salvation Army is one charity that has a direct impact on people daily. They provide food, shelter, and clothing to the needy. They operate substance and alcohol abuse programs. They respond to local disasters, such as fires, and provide relief to victims and first responders. If you want to be anonymous, you can just drop a few bucks into one of their kettles on your next shopping trip.
If you are short of cash, give your time. There are plenty of ways to volunteer over the holidays. If you work for one of the major corporations, they probably have some kind of charitable cause you can volunteer for or donate money too. You should be able to find some kind of worthwhile volunteer effort on the internet. One that helps people, makes there lives a little brighter, or just lets them know someone is thinking about them.
There are charities in your own neighborhood who can use money or help. Neighborhood food pantries are always looking for extra sets of hands for a day or two.
Some charities, especially religious based, hold Christmas festival sales. You can buy gifts and contribute to charity at the same time. Some collect food items or used clothing to give to the needy.
Giving some time or money to charity over the holidays is a no brainer. If you can afford to buy some more electronic or plastic junk, go to parties, or decorate your home, you can find a few dollars or a few hours to give to others.
You can make a difference. Heroism is not just physical or moral courage in the face of adversity. Heroism is also making a difference, even a small difference, in the lives of others. Ina Terkel, the wife of author and raconteur Studs Terkel said it best. “If you just make a difference in the life of one person, you will live in that person’s memory as long as they live.”
This holiday season be a hero. Make a difference. Shell out a few bucks or a few hours to help those less fortunate than you. Go do good.
Peter Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance writer, freelance photographer, and consultant. He is a passionate cook and eater. He likes to be the sharp stick that pokes, annoys, and provokes. His opinions are his and his alone.
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