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Socially responsible giving changes lives

Add meaning to the holiday season

The sights, sounds and aromas of the holiday season can evoke a swirl of emotions.

Diverse feelings, such as the anticipation of parties, savoring tamales and pan dulce, the excitement of gifts to come, pride of families gathering, laughter of camaraderie, and the quiet satisfaction of celebrating holiday religious services.

Truly, the year-end holiday season enriches our lives and lifts our spirits. 

The downside of this river of emotions is the anxiety about a limited gift-buying budget, dread of mall crowds and the frustration of ever finding that perfect gift. In other words, the negative feelings of being trapped in a “giving crunch.” 

It’s so easy to be swept up in the commercialism, the festivities and the things to eat that we rarely stop and reflect on the true meaning of the season – the joy of expressing love for our fellow humans, and sharing our abundance with others. 

An alternative to all the stress of frenzied gift exchange is creating a holiday tradition of socially responsible giving. If you haven’t already done so, include giving to nonprofit charities as part of your family’s sharing this holiday. This December, give a gift that can change lives.

Don’t think that your personal contribution can’t make a difference. More than 90 percent of donations to charities in 2011 were from individuals, according to Giving USA 2012, an annual report on philanthropy. 

Philanthropy literally means the “love of mankind,” and what greater expression of compassion for those less fortunate can there be than to donate money or volunteer time to a local charity? 

You also can donate in the name of a loved one. In addition, help ease the stress on those who want to give you gifts by encouraging them to donate to charity instead. 

Donating to social service organizations with a mission to help others also sets an example of giving and serving to children. By becoming a role model for responsible social giving, you raise children who learn to give, share and care for others, too. 

Latino Perspectives has its own proud December tradition of sharing vignettes of local charities that serve the suffering, the poverty-stricken and the outcasts of our society. 

This is our way of offering our readers positive opportunities to invest in making our community a better place for everyone.

Socks for Seniors

Jaime Coyle, founder of the Socks for Seniors organization based in Columbus, Ohio, says he got the idea for the sock drive and giving program while playing music at a home for retirees. 

“One older lady who was usually upbeat seemed down,” Coyle says. “I asked her what the problem was. ‘My feet are freezing,’ she said. So I got her and all the other residents of the home socks to warm their cold feet.” 

Coyle reports that the first program in Ohio has led to the establishment of Socks for Seniors giving programs in 250 U.S. cities. Last year, 25,000 socks were given as gifts. 

Phoenix is one of the big metropolitan areas that needs local Socks for Seniors coordinators to collect and give the gift of warm feet and holiday comfort to the elderly in nursing homes, community centers or isolated in their own houses. 

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This Article appears on the December 2012 issue of LPM under Features

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