A Magical Circle – The Spirit of Giving

First published in the Albert Lea Tribune, Monday, October 19, 2016

Christmas is a time of love and giving. Look around you. The bell ringers for the Salvation Army are out in full force. Grocery stores have pre-packaged bags of food ready to buy for donation to food shelves. You will find Toys for Tots and other organizations sponsoring trees in businesses so people can pick up a tag and donate a gift to someone who otherwise might not have Christmas gifts.

Individuals are busy buying gifts for their family and other friends, and others are giving gifts to those who they might not otherwise share with the entire year. We Americans are generous at Christmas.

I find when I am out and about I feel guilty I can’t leave money in each and every Salvation Army kettle. I know my donation in whatever kettle I drop it into goes to the same place, but I feel bad when I glance into the faces of the volunteers who are bell-ringers and don’t tuck a donation into their kettle. They work hard in cold weather, and they always have hopeful faces and friendly hellos.

We emphasize giving at the holidays, but in our communities our giving spirit is alive all year long. Because we don’t always have a reminder, we may forget hunger and need isn’t a holiday issue — it is an ongoing year round issue.

In my community the past few months we have supported Bebo, Alex and Cindy with benefits. These three individuals all have different cancers they are fighting. Communities Fighting Student Hunger pack bags every week for students to take home on the weekend so they will have something to eat. Our food shelf serves the area and is open every Tuesday evening for those in need to pick up food, and there is also emergency pickup. The prayer groups in every church are busy praying for those who need prayers. My community is one community; the same scenario plays out in communities across America.

The internet has widened our scope for those who need our help. I have followed a young single mother by the name of Emily who became ill when having her child. The illness destroyed her liver. Her courage impressed me, and over the years I have gained an admiration for her courage and her faith. She has inspired me. It was a blessing this past year when she received a liver transplant. I had learned to care about a complete stranger and feel she was part of my family.

Websites such as gofundme.com and caringbridge.com keep us connected to those we know and those who are strangers but need our assistance, and allow us to help, even if we can only pray and not donate monetarily.

Words of kindness count too. I can’t tell you what it has meant to me when events in my life have taken me down, and those near, far away and online friends have supported me with their soft words. There are occasions when it is easier to share with a person you haven’t met, but trust, rather than someone close by. They may have experienced what you are experiencing too. It might be just a word or two, but it gets you through to the next day.

I wish all of you a very merry Christmas. I wish those who celebrate and believe differently than I do, a happy holiday. You, my readers, keep me going. I thank you for supporting me through the year. I thank you for your kind words. I hear them and they inspire me.

Christmas is a time for love and giving. I wish for you to feel the joy of giving, because in giving you will feel the love wrapping around you to keep you going through the good and dark times in your life. That giving spirit will come back to you in ways you can’t imagine. I wish for you to keep the spirit of Christmas in your hearts all year long, and when you begin to feel the grinch and sadness and hard times in your life take hold, which will happen, let others give to you. It’s a magic circle.

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Links to Giving:

Team Getchellteam-getchell1

Alex Thostenson

Connor’s Fight5131575_1435729098-2689

Salvation Army Bed and Bread

Communities +Fighting Student Hunger

Food Shelves

These are some of my favorites right now. I will add more. I don’t have a lot to give but I can at least give by promoting them too. Have a wonderful Christmas.

Giving Children The Gift of The Christmas Season

Christmas gifts.

Christmas gifts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I did a story on a sub Santa Program in my home town. Sub Santa provides gifts for those children that otherwise would not have a Christmas this year because of their family circumstances. I think Leo Buscaglia says it best when it comes to what we can do to help someone else.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Leo Buscaglia

This is brief excerpt of the story that will appear in The Courier Sentinel this week.

Dawn Navarra has been working with the Sub Santa program sponsored by the Wells, Minnesota Lake and Kiester Lions Clubs for 12 years. It is the smiles on the faces of the children, knowing that they are going to get a gift that puts a smile on Dawn’s face. “When I see that smile on the face of a child it goes way into my heart.”

Sub Santa started many years before that at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, organized by Audrey Schroeder. The Lions became involved with the program about eighteen years ago.

Sub Santa provides gifts for children who might not otherwise have a gift under the tree on Christmas. Trees with tags are set up in area banks in Kiester, MN Lake and at three banks in Wells.

This might be a story about three small communities in Minnesota but the Caring and Sharing and Sub Santa programs are helping all across the nation sponsored by different groups and different individuals. Please take the time to find one and put a smile on a child’s face this Christmas.

There is a real need in our communities,” Navarra shared, “Until you
work with it, you don’t really know.

We don’t know unless we experience it ourselves. The entire article can be read in the Courier Sentinel. Like their Facebook page for updates on their new website coming soon. https://www.facebook.com/TheCourierSentinel

Remember what you do to help someone else, may change their lives forever.