A giver’s heart

My son has always had the heart of a giver. At the ripe old age of 5 he really likes to get presents and like most kids, expects presents on his birthday and at Christmas. But he loves to give presents. When he was 3, we randomly had to wrap up presents (his own toys he wanted to give away) and give them to his friends and cousins who he thought would get more
enjoyment out of them. He was so excited to give them away and tell the receiver why he choose that gift. He put thought into each gift and chose presents based on the receiver’s likes
and interests.

Not much has changed in two years. Last weekend, I took him shopping to pick out presents, which he cheerfully did for his dad, babysitter, uncle, and cousin. His face showed pure joy as
he found things he just knew they would like. He would have bought presents for everyone he knows if the funds were unlimited! If you tell my son you like birds, card games, the color blue, or spicy chips he is going to remember that and every time we see said item he will tell me who we should buy it for because it’s their favorite. As a mom of two kids who have way too many toys, I roll with his desire to give and have made it part of our Christmas tradition. Before Christmas each year, we  now go through the toy room and find toys that would get more play time with other kids and donate them. I’m hoping his younger sister follows in his footsteps of parting with things easily, but it is too soon to tell!

I know this tradition is kind of self-serving for mom and dad because as parents we are typically knee deep in kids’ toys, but giving up toys is a sacrifice for young children. This time of year is
rich with tradition of all shapes and sizes: decorating cookies and giving them to neighbors, watching certain movies (Home Alone, The Grinch, and Christmas Vacation are our family
favorites), or eating certain foods. What would happen if you started a new tradition with your family of giving or serving others? While I know by the time you read this, it will be too late to start a new Christmas tradition for this year, why not commit to a New Year’s tradition or maybe a February or May tradition? Giving and serving others can happen all year round!

Those of you with young families may be thinking “I don’t have time or energy for anything else!” And I completely get that, I am right there with you! It’s okay to start small! Have your
kids give away just one toy, donate money from their piggy banks to a charity they like, or send a card to an elderly neighbor. If you have kids a little older think about volunteering at a
community meal or food distribution together. Not sure where to even begin? You can visit www.815941HELP.com, which is an online resource listing all the social service agencies in Grundy County and would be a great place to start matching your family’s interests with local organizations. You can then reach out to the ones that interest you and inquire about their needs. We at the Community Foundation of Grundy County have the benefit of working with most of the local organizations so we are always happy to also point you in the direction of one matching your passions.

I wish each of you a wonderful Christmas and New Year, may this season be filled with joy!