By: Morgan Gaynor
During last year’s holiday season, we encouraged readers to consider
spending a little less on their holidays and putting aside some money
or time to help the less fortunate. This year, we are doing the same.
We realize “Giving Tuesday” is this week, and we hope it will
do a lot of good. At the same time, our plea is independent of that or
any other social media campaign. There have always been good reasons to
give at this time of year, so we’re not tying this to any recent
First, a little perspective: the National Retail Federation estimates per
person holiday spending at $805.65 for 2015. That’s slightly higher
than last year’s estimate of $802.45. For a family of four, this
of course means total spending of more than $3,200.
If Americans transferred just $25 per person of this holiday spending from
friends and family to poor families, the results would be staggering.
Similarly, if Americans volunteered just two to four hours of the time
they spent traipsing around malls, a lot more needy people would receive
food, clothing, and perhaps presents to give their children.
Donating doesn’t have to require much sacrifice in terms of time
or money. As we suggested last year, start by taking a look in your garage
for the bikes and scooters your kids have outgrown. Scan your bookshelves
for the books they’ve already read. Open your pantry and consider
parting with the canned food you don’t need right now. You could
even donate one of the two buy-one-get-one-free products you get at local
People can give back just by doing things they enjoy. For example, active
people can participate in a wealth of holiday-themed runs and other athletic
events during November and December. These types of events typically donate
their net proceeds to various worthy causes such as medical research or
food banks. These are a win-win for participants: they get to participate
in one of their favorite sports or hobbies, while also doing something
good for their local communities.
This is not to suggest that active events are the only ones available.
There is a wide range of charity events at this time of year. People can
do everything from photos with Santa for the kids to wine and beer tastings
for adult afficionados. There has probably never been a better time to
match a charity with one’s own interests.
To conclude, there are as many ways to give back as there are needs in
our local communities. Giving back does not have to be a penance or a
sacrifice; in fact, it can be a lot of fun. Please consider donating,
participating, or do other things to help the less fortunate during this
holiday season. You’ll feel better about all the excesses if you do.