“The Joy of Giving”

Starting about the middle of November our mailbox starts overflowing, easily double its normal volume.   Given the continued growth of internet shopping, it is no surprise that much of the increased mailings come in the form of catalogs.   
Some catalogs are sent randomly in the hopes you will take the bait.   Others are sent because you received a gift from someone else and made the company’s list for the next season.  Then there are those that come from companies you have purchased from before.   I must receive an Omaha Steak mailing at least three or four times a week.
I have also noticed a marked increase in solicitations for donations for charitable causes, at least most of them are charitable.  One of the most successful scams are supposed charities that only give a pittance of the money they raise to the causes they support.
Nevertheless, there are so many causes doing so much good work around the world.  They depend on the generosity of others and often the accomplishments are incredible given the amount of money raised.   
Many solicitations are sent this time of year in search of those who need an extra tax deduction, often clearly stated on the return form.  Many of the solicitations are sent this time of year because of the season.  After all, as the Bible states in Acts 20:35, “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving”.   I believe that to be true.
Have you ever noticed how you feel when you give something away by choice?  What parent has not delighted more in giving gifts to their children often at the expense of something they themselves may really need?  
Giving can be in any format.  For some it could be money and for others it could be time.   Many people receive true pleasure in helping others, both known and unknown in society.  The happiness that comes from giving varies from person to person.   
We all like receiving gifts, but often that feeling is short lived.  Our lives are richer when we share, and a true inner joy comes from helping others better their lives.  Some of the most generous, caring, loving people I have ever known had very little in the way of material wealth.   
The joy of a child’s bright smile, the sound of laughter, the tears of joy, and the gratitude for life comes to those who give of themselves, from their heart, in time, money, of just a listening ear to a friend in need.
As you consider your gifts at this Christmas season, remember  those beyond your own family.   Here are some local opportunities for your consideration:  Friendship House, Senior Citizen Center, the Library, the Bainbridge State College Foundation, Warpath on Cancer, YMCA, and so many others.  
No local institutions are more worthy than our own houses of worship.  It matters not what denomination or religion you belong to, if any at all.  In my political life, I have seen so many churches give so much, to those with so little, often with little resources to fund their good works.  
For the next couple of weeks, you will be bombarded with opportunities to spend more money than you have to give more gifts to people you know and love.   
Consider a gift to yourself.  If you have happiness, you need to give happiness.  If you want love, you need to give love.  It is only in giving that you receive.    I encourage you to look for those opportunities all around you where you can give and help others.   The joy of giving will be the gift you receive when you help others.  Its reward is priceless.   That is what life is all about.   
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Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]et

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