I’ve done it a thousand times before, and didn’t give it much thought that day. As we exited the grocery store, there was a Salvation Army Red Kettle and a Bell Ringer, so I dropped some money in. My son, the ever observant one, asked, “Mom, why did you do that?” It took as second for it to even register what he was asking. By this point, I was trying to navigate our shopping cart and three children across a busy parking lot. When I realized what he was asking, I repeated to him what my Mom often said to me, “You give what you can when you can, because you never know when you’ll be the one in need.”
He smiled, and asked, “Next time, can I put the money in?” My oldest daughter quickly said, “Me, too!” Of course, I said yes.
True to my word, I let them put the money in the next time we passed a Red Kettle. I was a bit surprised when my son asked, “How does putting money in there help anyone, Mom?”
Giving is woven tightly into the fabric of our family, and it is something that we do year round. We volunteer at a local food pantry, sponsor a child, and donate gently used clothing and toys to charity. Our kids are accustomed to seeing us give. Seizing the opportunity for a little history lesson, I explained to him that the Salvation Army’s red kettles have become a Christmas tradition, and that the idea for them was born in 1891 when Joseph McFee, a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco, California, had a simple idea to provide free Christmas dinners to 1000 of the city’s poorest. Sadly, he didn’t have the money for the meals, so after tossing and turning all night, he sought and secured permission from the authorities to place a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing, at the foot of Market Street. He placed it so that everyone going by would see it. By doing so, he raised enough money to feed the poor that Christmas. Like that original pot, all donations raised with the red kettle support homeless shelters and provide meals, provide rent and utility assistance, and after school programs in the communities where they were given. So we know when we donate, it is helping those in need where we live.
While we teach about giving year round, the holidays are the perfect time to emphasize the importance of giving.
I thought it’d be fun to share with you the Top Five Reasons I Give (and teach my children to do the same).
- I give because giving obeys God’s commands. Giving reflects my inner values and and character.
- I give because my Mom taught me to give.
- I give because I can. When there is a need that I can meet, I can make a real difference by giving.
- I give because giving is a good thing to do and makes me feel good because I’ve done something worthwhile.
- I give because little eyes are watching me. Even when I give without thinking, they are watching me.
Why do you give?
I participated in a campaign on behalf of Influence Central for The Salvation Army. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating. While this is a partnered opportunity, all content opinions expressed are my own.