25 November, 2008

Selfless Giving on a Local Level

It's that time of year again - the craziness of family/food/gift-based holidays. Don't get me wrong - I love an excuse to get together with good friends and family and cook fantastic new dishes. And anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE Christmas - I love everything about it - the decorations, the cookies, the parties, the music, buying gifts for each other. Growing up, no matter how hard things might have been, we always had a great Christmas always got one or two things we really wanted under the tree, always got to spend long hours with family at Grandma's house - that was Christmas for me.

In my teens I really started moving away from the whole idea of Christmas is about getting gifts to really just loving to give gifts! Nothing is more fun for me then picking out the right gift for each person on my list - course over the years I've developed a reputation as giving great gifts - makes it hard to live up to each year.

Okay - I'm veering a bit of topic here - my point is that time of giving and getting is upon us and everywhere we turn there's talk of the economy taking, people without jobs, stores not having money. Here in Nantucket its a topic of great concern as I hear from people (who have been here a lot longer than me!) that the jobs are disappearing, the construction has slowed down, the scalloping season isn't going well, the restaurants are closing down - this is a tough time of year to think about giving.

I hear all this news and I just feel so so luck 'cause for the first time in my adult life, my husband and I are living with excess money, we're stable 'cause I was very lucky in my job (worked for the degree very very hard but happened to be in the right place at the right time for this job). So where so many people have a short fall, I feel like we're comfortable enough to think about excess - so what's my responsibility in this situation?

I've been starting to think about ways of giving back - not just frou-frou gifts that people don't need but how to help those that really need help and there are lots of ways to do that on Nantucket! At first I thought about doing donations to national organizations and think this is a great thing to do but so often that money gets caught up in red tape and complicated methods of distribution and I wanted to find a way to help now - I know what I was doing was going to help out someone in need. So I decided to think local - where money and time I give locally goes directly to help those in my community 'cause really, these are the people I see everyday, MY community!

The big one is the Nantucket Food Pantry - it's located in the basement of St. Paul's Parish at 20 Fair Street (508-228-7438). They take food donations but also love to get monetary donations or gift cards from Stop and Shop. This is going to be my choice for giving back to the community - it's easy to think of sparing $10 a week to help someone get food and what is more easy then just purchasing a $10 gift card each week when I do my grocery shopping. Look around, I bet there's a food pantry in your neighborhood that would welcome any little donation.

Another seasonal donation opportunity here is the INKY Santa toy drive to get toys to needy kids at Christmas. From the INKY:

"Drop-off locations for new, unwrapped toys are available at The Inquirer and Mirror, Stop & Shop, Grand Union, Island Variety, Faregrounds Restaurant, Atheneum, Our Island Home, Madaket Marine, Nantucket Bank, the Sparks Avenue Branch of Pacific National Bank, and the Nantucket New School.
Monetary donations can be mailed to Inky Santa’s Toy Drive, Inc., P.O. Box 2595, Nantucket, MA 02584, or dropped off at the Nantucket Fire Department on Pleasant Street or The Inquirer and Mirror at the Milestone Rotary.
In addition to donating toys or money, volunteers are welcome to wrap toys Saturday, Dec. 13 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the fire station."

And many further ideas are available here for Nantucket
http://nantucket.plumtv.com/stories/giving_back_nantucket

So if you are able - take a look around this season and find someway to give back, as little or as large as possible. After all, I may have extra to give this year but someday I may not and I hope people will be generous when I might need help!

Okay - that's my preachy blog for the year - enjoy your Thanksgiving!!!

3 comments:

Erin said...

Yay, Jen!

We changed a bit of our tradition this year-- Our "family" (lake city friends included) usually exchanges 20 dollar gift cards over Thanksgiving. This year, everyone decided that they would each give me the 20 dollars so that I could go get a gift card to Meijers to give to a family of a student of mine anonymously for Christmas shopping. Works out to only $100, but certainly a welcome treasure for the family we are helping.

Jen Karberg said...

That's fantastic Erin - $100 is a lot of money to a family that needs it - what great new traditions for us to start :)!!!

Anonymous said...

Jennifer... what lovely thoughts you have shared with all of us. I think your ideas are excellent and local is good. We should talk more about this.