I recently asked my boys to share their favorite part of the Christmas Season. One of them practically bounced up and down in his excitement to share that his was buying and giving gifts to others. I chuckled because he has been pulling me aside for a few weeks now, telling me all the things he plans to buy for his brothers. I remember the Christmas a number of years ago, how he spent his last penny on gifts for others. In a culture obsessed with owning much, it is refreshing to see those who love giving much.
He spent his formative years living in a very giving culture where the mix of poverty and generosity never failed to astound me. The beggars that constantly surrounded was all he knew for many years. I can’t help but think that the generosity he saw in his Bangladeshi Aunties and Uncles, neighbors and ayah, had a profound effect on him. I take little credit for the generous person he turned out to be. And if you ask for the secret, I don’t know but maybe let your child look into the eyes of those in desperate need often enough so they see them as human, so they see them as fellow souls who share this earth with us and are a part of us. Let them see you model how to look into the eyes of a beggar, to acknowledge their existence, to feed their hunger that is so much more than the felt need of the moment. Teach your children to see the dignity in those who are less fortunate and to never, ever, ever squash that dignity. Whisper softly in their ears that giving dignity and honor is a gift they can always give. And while I think that giving must be a way of life, there are special times when giving is celebrated. That’s what I love about Giving Tuesday.
Giving Tuesday officially began in 2012, as a joint collaboration between the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, to celebrate the generosity of giving. For me, it is the perfect time to pause in between busy holidays and flesh out my Thanksgiving.
Here are some of my favorite organizations that are serving the poor or marginalized with dignity –
Preemptive Love is on the front lines in war-torn areas, providing emergency relief and creating jobs for refugees.
Refugees Thrive raises awareness and funds local organizations in developing countries to ensure refugees have the protection and support they need to thrive.
The International Campaign for the Rohingya advocates and amplifies the voice of Rohingya with international organizations, governments, corporations, and civil society. The Rohingya are a Muslim people group who have lived for centuries in Myanmar but have been brutally attacked by the Burmese military in a recent ethnic cleansing. Hundreds of thousands have fled across the border into neighboring Bangladesh. Read more about the crisis and agencies that are responding here.
Basha Boutique works in Bangladesh where women in brothels, street corners and transit centres are forced to sell their bodies through desperation, circumstance, or force. They currently provide alternative and dignifying employment to 100 women and hope to train many more in the coming year.
The Lighthouse Ministries in SE Canton Ohio provides evening clubs and after school programs to neighborhood children and does a great job coaching the kids to see the gifts that lie within themselves.
TomTod Ideas works with Middle School kids in Canton, Ohio and empowers them to dream up ideas that are changing the city they live in.
The Martin Center is another safe haven in SE Canton. Hundreds of kids come through the door every week for hot meals and a safe place to play basketball. The upstairs classrooms are rented out to local businesses and non profits, including a homeschooling academy, a homeless shelter and us! We love hearing the happy hum of a neighborhood being stirred back to life!
Near and far, good things are happening. When we give, those good things expand and strengthen and evil looses its hold a bit more. So give this Tuesday if you can, but let that giving be a celebration of the way you have chosen to live.