One more word about charitable giving

November 12, 2011

We’re not in the 1 percent. Whether you calculate by net worth or by income, we’re not.

But we’re lucky enough and I feel no guilt abut that. We both worked hard and saved money. M. did very well as a partner in a law firm and this allowed us to retire early from full-time work. It was a gift for me, really. I couldn’t have done it without him.

We live well, but still, we’re not in a position to spend like drunken sailors.

Charitable giving is something we take seriously and assess carefully. We do not give to door-to-door canvassers, but to causes that are personal to us. We give a fairly nice chunk of change overall to breast cancer programs and the walk, supporting two of our dear friends who have had the disease. And to remember my mother, who also had breast cancer. We donate to food drives. We support our troops (although not this war). Buy lunches and food for a homeless guy in my neighborhood. We support animal charities. We help where we can.

And now, it’s Christmas and I’ve seen a lot of email floating around with gift suggestions for this tough economy. I read them all. I’m even planning to blog on it shortly.

But then: It’s Christmas. The retail world is full of twinkling lights, stars and carols….and there are kids in this world who don’t have twinkling lights, stars and carols. They don’t even have a roof over their heads. Some are in foster homes. Some have been abused.

Forget protests, organized or otherwise. Forget the Occupy movement. Bottom line: It’s nearly Christmas and there are kids in need.

Again this year we decided to skip gifts to each other. After all, what do we need? Nothing, really. We spent money on home improvement and vacations. And what would a Christmas gift mean? Nothing really. Just more stuff to find a place for.

So this year, we’re helping foster kids have a brighter Christmas, among other things. Just sent a check out. I have a soft spot for kids, and I’m hoping to take it one step further and volunteer in 2012.

It’s Christmas. Do you really need another sweater? Piece of jewelry?

Do your kids really need all 10 of those toys? What can you do to help those in need this season?

Even $10 donated in the right place can make a difference for someone. Find a group that’s dear to your heart, and give them a helping hand.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay area, I hope you will consider giving to the group that’s getting our check, Unity Care. And if you have a particular Christmas giving tradition, please share it in the comments section below. It may inspire someone else.

Thank you.

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