Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It Is Better to Give Than Receive

The holiday season presents the perfect opportunity to help a child understand the meaning of the phrase “it is better to give than receive.”  My friend started a charity with a colleague of hers about a decade ago in New York City that helps families in shelters for the holiday season and it has such a unique approach in assisting these families.  They distribute wish lists to the shelters and ask the families to fill out three wishes that they would like to receive.  There are toys and electronics on the lists but there are also requests for warm coats, clothes and basic necessities.  This allows the parents to have some gifts "brought" by Santa on Christmas morning but they also have a chance to “give” a gift that their child requested.  Most importantly, a parent gets to be a hero in the eyes of a child. 
This is a huge undertaking and every December volunteers gather in a donated space to shop, wrap, log and label all the items that are bought and delivered to the shelters in time for the holiday.  To see all these people furiously trying to make everything come together for someone else to have the perfect holiday feels like the true spirit of the season.  When my older child was in kindergarten, I brought him with me to witness the closest thing to Santa’s workshop he will ever see.  Sure, we have spoken at holiday time about how some people have more than others, but for him to walk in a room and see a hundred and sixty kids’ bikes lined up, waiting to be given bows for the handlebars, it really made an impact on him of how many children would be without these if my friend and her charity didn’t perform their magic every year.   
My son and my friend’s daughter chatted and worked with the volunteers that day as these generous people spent hours working in some drafty warehouse rooms.  Then my son and I had dinner at a restaurant decorated for the holiday with red velvet bows and white lights and we talked about all the families who were going to have a happy holiday thanks to my friend’s charity and all the hard work of the volunteers.  Find the ways to help a child understand what compassion is at holiday time and all year long and you will give them a gift that can’t be wrapped in a box.   My friend’s name, by the way, is Joy.

Peace on Earth.
Be well, 


  1. Hi Alice,
    What a wonderful opportunity you gave to your child. A child's life is, really, everything that is right before their eyes. (Sort of like adults, too.)
    Thanks for the reminder about giving beyond our measure.
    God Bless,
    Lynn Anne Bemis~~Zeebs~~

  2. I cannot think of a better name for your friend, Alice. Perhaps her middle name is Grace? Please thank her on my behalf.

  3. Beautiful post, Alice. Thank you so much for this. God bless, and Merry Christmas.

  4. I'll second what Cat said. This is a beautiful post. It's easy to get caught up in a child's excitement over the gifts at Christmas, but we really do need to teach them the importance of giving, too. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Very beautiful and inspirational. Thank you. Merry Christmas.

    Kim Curran *craftier*

  6. Thank you for all the great comments, and thanks also to Alice for a great post. Merry Christmas everyone. Keep visiting for more good information.



*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.