12/22/10 - posted by Frank Dunnigan
This is truly an amazing site. Over the course of the years, we have shared our lives and our memories with one other. We’ve spoken of happiness and heartaches, the loss of loved ones, and the joys we all experienced growing up. We’ve discussed the challenges faced by older family members and remarked philosophically about how illness and some addictive behaviors have sometimes burdened those close to us. We’ve recalled graduation ceremonies and religious rites of passage in many schools and houses of worship, and have waxed nostalgic about friends and even long-gone pets who have accompanied us along the rocky road to adulthood. Most of us have never met (except for the Gold Mirror lunch bunch and those few who joined the Cliff House Monday night gatherings), but we all seem to know each other.

We’ve talked about how, over the years, our gifting practices have changed. Within my own family circle, treats such as home-made items from the kitchen, reproduced old family photos, candy & wine, keepsake hand-me-downs, and visits among our many cousins are now the cherished gifts that accompany the traditional stocking stuffers of candies, tiny puzzles, and the like. (OK, so there might be a few electronic books peering out from behind a Kindle gift card this year!) Nowadays, no one feels the need to rush out to a department store and stand endlessly in line just to provide others with more clothing or other “stuff”.

With that in mind, here’s a suggestion for the best holiday gift of all—and our friend Candis took the lead on this just a few days ago. Log onto the website of your own favorite non-profit organization—religious, humanitarian, educational, environmental, historical, pet-friendly—they are all out there, and an easy Google search will locate them for you. It then takes only a couple of clicks to DONATE a quick and painless $10 or $20 (or more, perhaps?) to support a cause that means something to you. If you can’t decide on a favorite, then just divvy up whatever amount you have in mind, and spread it around among multiple groups. If you’re computer challenged or reluctant to put a credit card number into cyberspace, then do it the old fashioned way—open your wallet or checkbook and drop something into a favorite group’s kettle, collection plate, or office location. (HINT-HINT: Western Neighborhoods Project is a bona-fide non-profit!)

My own gifts are ready for giving, but the last couple of items were the easiest of all—no gift wrapping, battling crowds, cleaning up the kitchen, or standing in line at the Post Office. I accomplished it all in just a few minutes one rainy night this week, sitting at my desk in a favorite old flannel shirt, with Christmas music in the background and a glass of holiday cheer close at hand. Charitable giving is a blessing for both donor and recipient—something that makes everyone feel good, both now and into the future.
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The Western Neighborhoods Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.