Saturday, December 18, 2010

(Doing Your Part to Actually Bring) Joy to the World

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When I was a kid, I was easily swayed by effective nonprofit marketing. I guess that as a kid, the phrase "effective nonprofit marketing" would have made zero sense, but in retrospect, it's true. I was frequently moved by things like telethons & bell-ringers & commercials about sad animals, & I was thus suckered into donating my allowance, my bat mitzvah money, & the coins I saved in a Tupperware container with a hole cut in the top. "Suckered" is probably a crummy word to use in this regard, but you get it.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions was to buy gifts for The Angel Tree, a program of the Salvation Army (apparently now in partnership with JC Penney); I loved buying Angel Tree gifts more than any of the other holiday gifts I helped my mom shop for. The local mall would display a Christmas tree near the food court, decorated with gift tags that each bore the name of an "angel," a child who needed a little bit of extra assistance around the holiday. The tag included the child's age, Christmas wish list & clothing & shoe size, sometimes noting a favorite color or cartoon character. You'd choose an angel's name from the tree - I always picked them based on how much I liked their names and/or how good their taste in gifts was (I liked the kids who were desirous of books & board games because I was a big nerd) - & then buy them a gift or two that the Salvation Army would deliver before Christmas.

I wanted to buy gifts for all the angels, but of course, that was never possible. I wanted every angel to get the best things on their holiday lists, but somehow, knew that wasn't possible, either. I always knew that the kids who quite hopefully listed things like "Purple bike" & "Nintendo" were more likely to end up with Barbies & sweaters & packages of socks. I rarely got big-ticket items for the holidays, either, but I was living in a house with two loving parents, & I had a warm, cozy bed, & my clothes were nice & fit well, & I knew that there would be no shortage of holiday cheer at my house & in my life. I often wondered who those "angels" really were & what their lives were like - where they were living, & if they got to have Christmas trees, & if there would be any gifts at all if they were among the children whose names were not plucked from the tree at the mall by eager & fortunate kids like me.

I haven't done the Angel Tree in awhile. In fact, I'd forgotten about it until recently, & the JC Penney site tells me it's too late to buy Angel Tree gifts this year. But the sentiment still stands. This Christmas, while you're wishing for Kate Spade planners & sparkly cocktail rings & J Crew peacoats & new Wiis, little kids all across the damn planet have placed their hope in the big guy in the red suit, hoping he'll bring them some small bit of holiday joy. For that matter, there are plenty of adults who are hoping the same. At a time when so many need so much, ask yourself what you can do to make the season a little brighter for those who aren't as well-off as you are - because frankly, if you're reading this post, chances are that there are plenty of people who are worse-off than you, even if you're feeling the effects of the bad economy, too. (Aren't we all?)

I don't celebrate Christmas in the traditional tree/tinsel/lights/church way, but that doesn't mean I don't value the spirit of the season. Have you thought about how to spread joy this year? Go find an angel & pay it forward.

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Learn more about the coolest new app that revolutionizes the whole shopping, gifting, and gift card-organizing experience and Download the SWAGG app to your iPhone or Droid. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity.

SWAGG has partnered with non-profit Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). For every download of the app between now and Dec. 31, 2010, SWAGG will donate $1 to SU2C up to $125,000. Awesome, right?! Visit the SU2C site for more info http://www.standup2cancer.org/


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