The Tradition of Charity During the Holidays

Brooke McCormick
It’s hard to believe that pretty soon we’ll be hearing the festive ringing of bells, followed up with an enthusiastic,“please donate to the Salvation Army!”   If you have dropped a few coins in the familiar red kettles, you are not alone. Each year the Salvation Army raises millions of dollars during the holiday season through this simple gesture, helping needy families, seniors and the homeless. Their slogan is short and catchy:  “Doing the Most Good.”
Donating to charity reaches its peak during the last three months of the year. It’s no wonder that when the temperature drops, we feel our most compassionate. Even simple acts of charity bring warm and fuzzy feelings to our hearts.
Last year, I was in sunny Florida for Christmas. We were taking a nice walk on Christmas Day. I remember seeing a forlorn-looking guy sitting on a stoop holding out a can.  My dad handed him a twenty-dollar bill. I was thinking that I had no clue as to how this poor man came to these sad circumstances.  I was also reminded that you don’t need to look far to see people who are hurting.  
Increasingly, the need is growing more acute in our own communities. And not many miles from the well-to-do Main Line, there are many needy people who have fallen onto hard times.  
There are many ways to help, ranging from the more abstract to the very concrete.You could donate funds to your charity of choice. Or consider working at a soup kitchen and feeding hungry people before sitting down to your own Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps you have some unwanted coats in your closet. Many organizations are looking for warm coats and you could put them to great use this winter.
Heifer International provides livestock and seeds to impoverished families. Though they help many families internationally, they also are a lifeline to some of the most poor areas in our country, including Appalachia.  Their tagline is, “the most important catalog in the world” because they are life-sustaining at the most basic level. Besides livestock, you can help out a needy family by donating to one of their many projects, including clean water or sending a young girl to school. I think this organization has an interesting approach to charity, and is doing a lot of good in the world.
Toys for Tots requires little effort and your toy donation would surely bring a smile to a child’s face.There are many drives this time of year for all sorts of things.  Radnor holds its own hat and glove and canned goods collection annually.  
So try experiencing the holiday season in a new way this year. Look for ways to give on the spot and take advantage of good fortune to identify and help those in need.