When our boys were little, a friend told me of her family’s tradition: they always designated one night of Chanukah for charity. Each child chose a cause and, instead of a gift, their parents made a contribution in their names.
It sounded like a good idea, so we tried it. Our oldest was in a Jewish preschool and decided he wanted to give money to “poor Jews who can’t afford a menorah.” Seriously. Can you imagine how hard it was to find them? Thank God we were in New York City!
Later, he moved to the United Negro College Fund (A mind is a terrible thing to waste.) His brother chose Paul Simon’s Children’s Health Fund (he had gone with me to the Graceland benefit) then Comic Relief. Both boys liked that one. As adults, I’ve watched them continue to donate to charities, emergency funds and political campaigns and been grateful for that good advice so long ago.
Why am I telling you this? Because a similar tradition called Giving Tuesday launches this year, supported by a myriad of both nonprofits and corporations. To counter the noise of “Black Friday” (the post-Thanksgiving spendfest) and Cyber Monday (the online equivalent) they’ve created a day for giving. This year it’s Tuesday, November 27th.
It’s not very complicated, which is what makes it so great. No prescriptions or pitches- they don’t care where or how you do it. They just want to build a tradition of taking that one day, amid the holiday shopping madness, to give back.
And that’s why I told you the story of my kids. This same idea worked so well with them that Giving Tuesday sounded perfect from the start. Why not give it a try- whether it’s donating, volunteering or some combination. It’s easy to remember the pleasure of that new iPhone5 but the joys of doing something for someone else are tougher to describe. And probably mean a lot more.
Cynthia Samuels is Managing Editor of Care2 Causes and has two sons, two daughters-in-law and one amazing grandson. Oh – and a husband, with whom she lives in Washington, DC.