Happy Holidays and best wishes into the New Year! As 2019 comes to an end, I’d like to share with you a cherished tradition that my family partakes in every year during the holidays. Instead of the standard white elephant theme where you draw a name of a family member and purchase a gift for them, we do a similar format but with a charitable spin on it. I shared this tradition with Kim a few years ago when someone in my family learned about and supported the Infinite Smile Project in my name. Kim loved the idea and asked if I wouldn’t mind sharing our tradition with all of you!
Apologies for posting this after Christmas! However, it’s a tradition you can do any time of year that your family exchanges gifts and could be a wonderful way for all of your family members to bring in the New Year! I won’t be making my donation in honor of my Aunt until December 31st (as her charity of choice has an organization matching all donations submitted on New Year’s Eve). Any time of year is the perfect time to give back and learn about the non-profits and charities that your family members find important to them!
My cousins, Trevor and Britta, organize the Holiday Donation Exchange. At the beginning of December, each family member submits their current address, charity of choice, and the charity’s address or website. Once all submissions have been received, cards are sent to each family member with the information needed (what charity they will be donating to and in which family member’s honor). There is also a separate card and envelope to send to the family member you received that year! Once you receive your cards in the mail, you make a donation to your family member’s charity and send them a card with a personalized message.
We have a very blended family and each year our family seems to grow – everyone is invited to participate! I look forward to participating every year and anticipate the day when my card arrives with my family member and their charity of choice. I love this tradition because it allows me to learn more about my family members and the values important to them, as well as the charities they support. I come from a family filled with people who support those who don’t always have the means to support themselves, whether that’s socially, economically, or financially. I’m proud to be a part of this tradition and to have a family that chooses to give back rather than receive. My charities of choice tend to lean more toward those that help others experience joy and kindness. I’ve chosen The Infinite Smile Project for a number of years, as well as my home dance studio, Dancers’ Workshop. Giving back, being kind, and dancing are some of my joys and passions. I appreciate the donation given in my honor that enables others to experience what I hold close to my heart.
I asked a few of my family members to share why this tradition is special to them and the charities they’ve chosen over the years. Their responses are below.
Trevor: “I love this tradition because I think it better captures the holiday spirit of giving than buying presents for each other that we don’t really need. Some of my charities have included the Essie Justice Group and the Immigrant Family Defense Fund who both work to reunite families separated by the criminal justice or immigration system.”
Mark: “The holidays are about sharing our family’s abundance. This tradition does away with the unwanted pressure of gift-giving. My charities of choice advance social and economic justice.”
Dages: “This tradition is special to me because it allows us, individually and as a family, to reflect on our values. I tend to choose charities that aid those without platforms for their need to be expressed, their voices heard.”
Robyn: “Through this tradition, we are giving gifts that come from love and are meaningful in that they celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Among others, my charities of choice have included Partners in Health because I believe everyone should have access to healthcare and Hole Food Rescue (local non-profit) because no one should be food insecure.”
As we go into the New Year, I invite you and your family to start this tradition. You have a whole year to find charities meaningful to you! Until then though, a fun way to start 2020 would be volunteering with an organization that is meaningful to one of your family members! If you’d like to continue giving back throughout the year…we’ve got you covered with our monthly campaigns!
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!