How can we be both generous and wise?

The Artdog Quote of the Week

Today is not only Kwanzaa, but also Boxing Day in much of the English-speaking world. No, contrary to some of the stories I’ve heard, Boxing Day isn’t called that because we bundle all our unwanted gifts back into their boxes and return them to the stores that day.

The name of the holiday comes from the alms boxes or the poor boxes that churches have put out over the centuries, to collect aid for the poor. In other words, the holiday seeks to honor and promote the tradition of charitable giving during the holidays.

Maybe you have some newly-received “Christmas money” fattening your pocketbook and would like to share some of it, or maybe you are seeking a nice tax deduction before the end of the year. Maybe you simply have the altruistic generosity of love for others overflowing in your heart (wouldn’t that be lovely?).

Whatever your motivation, today is a traditional day for charitable giving. If that’s your aim, then God bless you!

If you are in the habit of giving, you probably have your list of favorites already. Mine include our local animal shelter, the Great Plains SPCA, my church, Harvesters, The Nature Conservancy, the ASPCA, the Southern Poverty Law Center, K9s4Cops, and WikipediaI’d give more to the many deserving others in operation, but as I noted last week, all of us mortals are finite beings with finite resources. If I may disagree slightly with Anne Frank above, it is possible to impoverish yourself from giving, although the intrinsic benefits are many.

I hope you have your own list! But wherever you give, may I also suggest that you run it past The Charity Navigator (another excellent candidate for receiving donations, by the way), for a dose of clarity and realism before you invest too deeply? Unfortunately, wherever generous people seek to help others with their gifts, there also are unscrupulous people who seek only to enrich themselves in the name of “charity.” The Charity Navigator helps us to be both generous and wise

Happy Boxing Day!

IMAGES: Many thanks to Inspired by Familia, by Mari Hernandez-Tuten, for the Anne Frank quote image. Her article includes some perceptive insights you also might find interesting. Many thanks to Period Oak Antiques for the photo of an alms box from about 1450; there are more views of it on the website. We now have more efficient ways to give, though no less need. The Charity Navigator logo is from the organization’s website.

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jansgephardt

Kansas City-based Jan S. Gephardt is a writer, artist, and teacher. She makes nationally-recognized paper sculpture and writes sf mystery novels about a sapient police dog.

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