Christmas is the time of year that Americans become increasingly charitable. Americans volunteer to feed the homeless and it is the time of year we hear the ringing bells signaling to throw donations into the Salvation Army bucket. Christmas is the time of year for giving — these acts are commonly known as the “Christmas spirit.”
By January, when we see a homeless person, we pass them by. We are too busy to volunteer we have too many resolutions fill our day planners. No money is left to give, it was all spent on the presents under the tree.
Christmas brings about the spirit of giving but what about the rest of the year? Should we not continue to give selflessly? Many would argue that one period of time in a year is not enough when it comes to giving. Ideally, giving should be done everyday.
“We too often forget that the Christ whose birth date is called Christmas intended for us to never stop celebrating that season of sacrifice and giving.” Larry Dablemonet, contributor to morningsun.net, said.
Giving does not have to mean donating monetarily or giving tangible presents. Giving can actually be done in many ways.The gift of one’s time is the largest contribution that anyone can give. The great thing about donating time is that there are a variety of ways to do so.
Tutoring is an example of donating time. This is something that many people cannot afford for themselves or for their children. This offers someone in need a service that could truly make a difference in their lives. Giving your service with your skill such as this is truly using your gifts from God.
A new way for students at California Baptist University to give is through a program called VITA, which is short for the International Revenue Services Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for low income tax payers and seniors.
Accounting majors give their time and skills to help those in need by utilizing their talents and gifts that God has equipped them with. Tax filing assistance can often be expensive for families struggling to make it in a tough economy.
Aaron Christopher, an accounting professor, is heading up the program for CBU students.
When asked about the intricacies of the VITA program Christopher said, “ The CBU Accounting Society partners with our county’s anti-poverty agency – Community Action Partnership (CAP) and volunteers at VITA sites near our campus. Last year over 20 students volunteered and prepared over 350 returns resulting in over $1 million in refunds being returned to local taxpayers to provide for their families and to help stimulate our local economy. “
The essential part in keeping the season of giving going is learning how to best help those in need.
The students previously involved in the VITA program have reported to Christopher that the feeling of helping someone else has impacted them more than the skills they have gained through the learning experience.
“Students often remark how they felt that they got more out of the program by helping others than they felt they gave by doing someone’s taxes,” Christopher said.
At CBU, it seems that there is endless possibilities for mission trips and volunteering if students are looking for ways to give their time. However if that is not an option, giving can also come in the form of retail therapy.
With the popularity of TOMS among CBU students and around the country, many other brands are popping up with a similar charitable giving concept.
Such companies include Krochet Kids, a company started by a group of young men on a mission trip. They were moved to help the women suffering from poverty in northern Uganda. The company teaches women to crochet and make crochet beanies that come in all different colors and styles. The company’s motto is “Buy a hat. Change a life.”
According to krochetkids.org, they explain themselves as “A lifestyle accessories brand intent on empowering communities around the globe to rise above poverty.”
By shopping with companies like this one, you have the opportunity to give all year long to places that may not necessarily be accessible to visit in person.
It is possible to keep the gift of giving alive all year just by being a great friend.
For instance, listening is one of the best ways we can make a difference. This gift that God has given to all of us comes in handy. Many people need someone to talk to, for whatever reason it may be, knowing that someone is around that can offer time to simply listen can give the person the strength they need for whatever is plaguing them.
Giving can be done in so many ways, to keep the season of giving going all year long, try and think of creative ways to make a difference in people’s lives. After all, that is what our lives are about according to the Gospel.
“Share with God‘s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13
As a Christian, as a person, as a member of this community called earth, keep the season of giving going.