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Consciencious Giving

Giving 12/19/2009

Today I received another donation to Heifer through my Team Heifer website. This places our total donations at $220.00. Not bad for suggested donations of $5-10. This reaffirms my belief that we all want to give and make a difference, and when we collectively come together we can expand our river of giving into an endless ocean, and when we give the gift of self-reliance through organizations like Heifer or, we give even more than our money, we share in the successes of our global economy and global community, and this ultimately is what is important . I feel deep gratitude to all the people who came together for this experiment in giving this season and who gave with open hands and hearts. Truly, when we join together to donate, our $5 donations matter. Four people donating $5 buys a flock of chickens, ducks, or geese and a family in China, or Africa, or the United States for that matter, are on their way toward self-reliance, education, and good health care, nutrition and clean water.

I am greatly impressed with how many people this season have confided in me how shallow this holiday season feels for them, how disconnected they feel to the spirit of the season, and how they wish they could re-define giving for themselves and their families, and what they each are doing to create a space of sacred giving in their lives. We all agree that this can be difficult and confusing especially when it is part of our culture to mass consume and to, on the other hand, truly enjoy giving gifts, seeing the joy on small ones faces as they receive an unexpected treasure under the tree. Yet, I believe through moderation and small steps we can make a difference in our own lives for the holidays. The Oregonian had an article about making gifts for the season, for giving people the gift of services such as having an entire family go to an elderly relative or neighbor's home and clean the house and yard, fix and mend things, sew new curtains and the like. And I agree, there is so much we can give that we don't realize would be a meaningful gift to someone. One woman I work with, who has very little money and a four year old, was telling me about the discussion she and her husband had about the whole Santa thing. He feels it's wrong to lie to a child about a man who brings gifts under a tree, and she feels it is a vital part of our culture. We discussed how perhaps, since her son is so into the old Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer claymation video and all things Rudolf, that perhaps they could make ornaments and cookies to give to Rudolf, how they as a family can support both parents wishes and keep it all real for their son who soon will be in school and faced with the Santa issue at some point in his young life. She and I spent a long time discussing the nature of giving, and like myself, she believes we should give every day of our time, ourselves, our resources, not just once a year in a mad mass frenzy of shopping. The pressure is so great for so many people. Even I feel drawn into buying a tree and decorations just because my parents are coming and it might be their last holiday.

I work with another young woman who made cookies with her friend to give to people for the holidays, and what a fun gift and so affordable and meaningful. We take so little time to make things, and for those of us who have little time to be creative, I am discovering many good retailers and businesses who offer fair trade items that we can support through using our economic buying power. Even at my job at Starbucks, I work toward encouraging people to purchase the Product (RED) gift card because we donate 5c for every use of the card to the Global Aids Fund (which for many of my customers is a lot of usage), and a $1 for every pound of (RED) coffee we sell. Other retailers have Product (RED) products that are worth buying where a percentage of the sale goes to the Global Aids Fund. My small downtown store also gave 300 cups of coffee to the Oregon Food Bank through our donations of VIA ready-brew coffee packages, and so it goes on and on that each of us, even those of use working for corporate companies can make a difference in the way we sell our products and how we talk about them, directing people to those items that are Fair Trade or locally made, or organic. As I pursue a life based on my values and value based giving/buying, I am finding so many good options, alternatives, and avenues to use my purchasing power for the greater good. Especially for someone like myself, who is on a limited budget, it is even more important that I really look before I buy, look at what I am investing my resources in so that I don't end up with more things that don't fit my values or more than I can spend. It is so easy to just spend without thinking, especially at the holidays, so I am grateful to meet and discuss with other women how they are dealing with the holidays and how they are refocusing how and where they put their economic spending power.

I am again inspired by the many people I have met this season who are reaching out to create a sacred space of consciencious giving in their lives. I learn so much every time I meet someone who tells me about their life and how they want to change or are changing toward aligning their lives with their values. What a blessing we all are when we share our stories and our perspectives.



Katie McDonald's picture


Hi Georgette,

I've always believed that gifts should be given because and when we feel inspired to give - but there can be an aweful lot of pressure around shopping at this time of year.

Increasingly though, I am seeing people limit the number and value of gifts they give for Christmas or give donations instead - afterall there is only so much stuff we need.

Hopefully, the mind-boggling mass consumerism that goes on at this time of year, provides the opportunity to reflect on our values and how we enact them in the global market, and that people are able to maintain a sense of good will throughout the year, making consciencious giving a lifestyle choice and more than a seasonal whim.

Best wishes,


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