Last year, Forbe’s reported the average American spent $750 on gifts during the holiday season, which surprisingly was a decrease from $862 over the previous few years.* The most popular gift among those purchased? The oh-so-personal gift card.
That’s right folks we don’t even spend time looking for gifts anymore with meaning. Instead we simply buy a gift card that could cover any number of items, but most importantly it spares us from spending our time hunting down a unique or meaningful gift for our loved one. Do you think maybe we are missing the point?
This Holiday season I would like to urge you to give something that means something. What’s truly awesome about this challenge is that everyone has an equal opportunity to give, no platinum card or wads cash required.
Now I’m not asking you to give up gift giving during the Holidays, I realize its part of all the fun. I’m suggesting we rethink how we give those gifts. Rather than trying to find something for the coworker you tolerate all year long, why not an office exchange of giving something that means something. Visit http://www.redcross.org/support/donating-fundraising/donations/holiday-catalogfor several options on turning your holiday gift budget into such things as emergency shelter, military comfort kits, vaccines, and help where it’s needed most. Your money will be put to good use instead of spent on yet another dust collector for your desk.
Looking to trim the holiday spending this year? Visit your local Red Cross for non fiscal options. With the Red Cross you can give something this holiday season to provide hope for those in crisis tomorrow. Donating blood is a quick way for anyone to give something that could mean a life tomorrow. One pint of blood is enough to potentially save three lives. What could be more meaningful than saving one life? Saving three lives.
If giving blood makes you squeamish, or simply isn’t a viable option for you, then take a class. Each year, an average of more than 9 million people gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies through American Red Cross training classes, including First Aid, AED and CPR training. By giving your time and dedication you are not only acquiring a new skill for yourself but you are also empowering yourself to be a lifesaver tomorrow. Who’s to say if that life you save will be a stranger or your own child?
Want to know the best way to give something that means something year round? Volunteer. The Red Cross workforce in Southern Missouri is comprised of 97 percent volunteers who give their time in large or small amounts, year round, to provide assistance to those in crisis. Becoming involved in a Red Cross team effort is rewarding not only for the people the organization provides assistance to, but also to you as an individual. I speak from experience when I tell you there is no better feeling than knowing you gave back to your community. Plus the friendships I’ve formed while volunteering are priceless.
This holiday season when writing out your Holiday shopping list remember to add a gift for your community. We guarantee the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you make that donation will be like getting a special gift back.
By: Steph Burns, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer
*Information from http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/07/skip-christmas-save-personal-finance-skip-gifts.html