When it’s really about giving

By Gabbi Johnson

Gabbi Johnson is a senior and writes for The Talon newspaper. She enjoys to dance, read and write. As well as taking dance classes and performing, she also teaches classes for younger students. Her favorite genres to read are fantasy and fiction.

Posted: January 8, 2014

Some turn to charitable gifts to spread the Christmas spirit

As the holidays roll around people are all faced with the question, “What am I going to buy for people?” There are always the usual clothes, food, gift cards and little trinkets. Then once the gifts have been exchanged, you stand in your room looking around looking for places to put handfuls of things you don’t know what to do with. Generally some presents last and get used, but many of them get shoved under the bed, piled in the closet, or put in the donation box.

What if you could give a gift that lasts? Donating in someone’s name as their Christmas gift is a way to help others and solve your issue of what to buy people. This Christmas, instead of spending money on things people don’t have a great need for, you could donate in their name and make a difference.

Cultural Immersion Director Amy Swanson’s extended family chose to donate instead of give gifts last year. They all picked a family member and then went out and donated to a charity in their name. Once all had done so, her family gathered and told each other about what organization they donated to and why they chose to give to that particular organization.

“That was a unique way not just to give on behalf of someone,” said Swanson,” It was just a really great way to get educated about these organizations in addition to knowing they were being supported,” says Swanson.

Getting gifts for people you don’t know well can be hard. Swanson talks about how knowing what to buy for an extended family member can be difficult and awkward.

“What often ends up happening is, people ask the other person, if they don’t know them well, ‘what would you like?’” She said, “‘and they get some sort of suggestions, gift suggestions, from them. And I think in that way the gift has less meaning.”

She feels that it can be awkward and shows less thought and understanding of the person if they already know what they will receive.

Chaplain and Bible teacher Dan Bergstrom has a similar tradition with his family, except everyone donates a certain amount of money to the same charity. Every year a family member decides on a charity that everyone will help donate to, such as World Vision.  Although his family still buys each other small gifts, the charitable giving is very important to him.

“It’s a wonderful way to celebrate, I think, what Christmas is really about, loving others and the gift of love, if you will, to people who are less fortunate,” said Bergstrom.

Another thing Bergstrom finds about this gift of donating is that the focus is taken off the giver and therefore taking away the temptation to be arrogant or prideful about their giving. The focus of the gift gets redirected to both receivers, the person who the gift was for and the person who will, ultimately get the benefit of the gift, such as clean water or education.

“I think there’s benefit, not just to the organization getting it,” said Swanson, “but even to the people that are involved in the giving.”

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