By: Kim Kerr, Family Services Manager
Did you know that there is a date designated as a day of giving? In 2019 the date is December 3, 2019. It is a global generosity movement. It was created in 2012 as a simple idea, a day to encourage people to do good for others.
I began working for Habitat for Humanity in July of 2019. In the short time I have been working at Habitat, I have seen this movement in action. As the Family Services Manager, I have the privilege to work with our Partner Families. I follow the families from the beginning of the application process, to the point that their homes are completed and a Dedication ceremony takes place. During our program orientation meeting, I have seen the excitement the families bring, when we discuss the requirement of working on other people’s homes and their own homes. They can not wait to get started giving to others. You will hear our Families say, “We don’t get a hand-out, we get a hand up”. So, who benefits from the giving? Is it the person who is receiving? Or is it the person giving? Or are both parties the recipients?
We have all heard those stories, about paying forward in the fast food line. A Starbucks in Connecticut in 2013 had more than 1,000 customers pay it forward. I have been the recipient as well as the one giving to the person behind me. In my opinion, both the receiver and the giver benefit. I have often hoped, maybe I am truly making a difference in this person’s day.
One year my niece planned a special birthday gift for her husband. She filled a hat with “random acts of kindness”. She had him choose three gifts to share with someone to celebrate his birthday. On his birthday, as a family, they hopped in the car and went out to celebrate his birthday. His first card said, “buy a cup of coffee for someone”. Off they went as a family, three young boys ages 5, 3, and a few months, headed to the local coffee shop drive through. The next card read, “write a note to someone to tell them what a great job they did parking their car in the parking lot.” Little did she know, but her husband took great care writing this note and really enjoyed this activity. When he had written the note, he carefully tucked the note under the windshield wiper for this driver to receive. The final card read, “fill up someone’s tank of gas”. Off the family went again in search of a person to give the gift to and they found a woman at a nearby gas station. According to my niece, the woman was so taken by this act of kindness, she immediately came over to the car to greet the family, while her husband filled the gas tank for the woman who was almost in tears. As I was told this story I wondered … who received the gift that evening? Was it the Dad who was celebrating his birthday in this nonconventional way? Was it the woman who received the tank of gas? She was so thrilled she was almost in tears. I would have loved to find out what the person thought who received the parking note. I would have kept that note forever and walked just a little taller that night. Maybe my niece who planned this special night for her husband was the recipient? Not only did she make the night memorable for her husband, but what a great lesson her boys learned that night as well. They got to see first hand the joy of giving to others without the expectation of anything in return.
As we are in the Christmas season, giving is not about the number of gifts, the amount spent, or the time invested. As a retired teacher, my favorite time of year was when we “made” our Christmas gifts for parents. In my opinion, the most precious gifts received are things that are handmade and come from the heart. I once had a parent tell me that their children know they will receive three gifts at Christmas. She said she has told them, “that is the number of gifts that Jesus received.” What a powerful message that sends to children. The smallest gift to some, can make a huge impact to others. Maybe you would like to as a family, adopt a child. Perhaps give a gift to a non-profit that you believe changes lives. In all you do, enjoy the act of giving and give with a grateful heart. Have a blessed Christmas season.