As the Thanksgiving holiday arrived, many people in the area were facing lean times. Thanksgiving is a time for people to reflect on their blessings, but perhaps some families were discouraged about the challenges they face. It is easy to forget sometimes just how much we have to be thankful for in America.
Let’s face it — we live in a nation where even most of our poorest residents have non-essentials such as cell phones and televisions. It is easy to get spoiled in this environment, and over time we develop misconceptions about what is truly a necessity in this life.
Then there are those of us who may not have a problem paying bills, but some budgeting is required to make it all work. I tend to grumble when I have to forgo purchasing a “want” to stay within budget. But sometimes it takes just a small action to remind us of how fortunate we really are.
One of those things that reminds you to be thankful is the Operation Christmas Child program run by Samaritan’s Purse. Through this program, shoeboxes filled with little gifts for children ages 2 to 14 are shipped to impoverished areas of the world. People all over the nation put together boxes of goodies so children can have a good holiday season, and many Stokes County residents actively participate in this program.
To think that the children in some of these countries, and even U.S. communities, have practically nothing, that they may not have access to basic items — that really teaches you to appreciate what you have. Someone always has it worse.
A few years ago I helped my young siblings participate in the program. My mom supplied the funds, and I took the kids to buy items for the boxes. We managed to pack a cart full of toys, school supplies, socks and other items — many of which were things we take for granted as the basics. It was great to see how excited my siblings got when they picked out presents for other kids their ages. Even the youngest brother, who was six years old at the time, began to understand why we were there.
We came back home with so many items that they had to be strategically packed into the plastic boxes. We finally got everything packed and labeled. The next day I dropped them off at a church to be transported to Charlotte before being shipped to deserving children.
I think the activity taught my younger siblings, and reminded me, about the importance of giving. We so often spoil our kids and give them everything we can afford (or can charge), even if they don’t need it. It is good to see them buy items that they might want and instead give them to someone else. Being continuously given to can make a person feel a little hollow, but giving to others creates joy inside.
What really strikes me at the heart is when I see people with even fewer resources than myself demonstrate a greater desire to give. Something I experienced many years ago forever made an impact on how I view giving.
I was at a brother’s birthday party. A wealth of people attended the celebration and gave him presents. There was one family from our church there who did not have much money. When my brother opened their present, it was a small stuffed animal that had obviously been used. My brother quickly moved on to the next present which was much more glamorous.
Later I found out that the young girl in the family had desperately wanted to give a present, but they didn’t have the money to buy something new. The dad told his daughter to pick out one of her best toys to give to my brother.
Tears came to my eyes as I realized that the girl had given away one of her prized stuffed animals to give to my brother who was being spoiled with goodies. But the joy on that little girl’s face as she watched my brother open her present was a beautiful thing to behold.
The desire to give that the little girl had, the thankfulness that I felt that day — those are the things we need to be teaching our kids.
There are numerous organizations in the area such as the Salvation Army and King Police Department asking for donations to help families in need this Christmas. There are plenty of opportunities to teach our youth valuable lessons about giving. We should let them get involved by donating some of their own money or picking out presents for other kids.
I hope many people will donate to local organizations this year. A seemingly small action can have a large impact on someone’s life, and it can teach you to be even more thankful for what you have.