Today is Thanksgiving. And as Americans embark on their Thanksgiving rituals, traveling to join family, scouring Black Friday ads for Christmas finds, taking a post-football game nap, and reflecting on their many blessings, it is easy to forget about those not able to enjoy the same traditions: those who cannot afford the cost of travel to be with their families, those who will be enjoying a Thanksgiving meal no different than last night’s leftovers, those who will be shopping at dollar stores to provide Christmas gifts for their children, those who are thankful that penny-pinching covered the power bill this month.
While hundreds of organizations, charities and ministries work year-round to provide assistance to those in need, the holidays are particularly stressful times where most everyone’s finances are stretched thin. It’s easy to overlook those less fortunate—especially when we may even consider ourselves in need.
So, why is giving important this Thanksgiving? Here are three reasons:
1. Others (most likely) need it more.
Do we really need that turkey figurine that would make a centerpiece? How about that deep fryer when the oven works just fine?
With unemployment remaining at 9 percent, there are many others who cannot afford to put food on the table, much less be concerned about décor or the way it’s cooked.
2. It’s about time.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2009 survey of consumer expenditure found that the poorest fifth of America’s households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent. With the poor taking care of each other and the rich taking care of themselves, how can we expect the economy to turn around?
3. You’ll be blessed.
Most of us have heard that it is better to give than to receive. Does this mean that we do not enjoy receiving gifts? Certainly not.
However, if we did not find joy in watching someone open a gift that we spent hours in line to purchase because we knew it was exactly what he or she wanted, why labor to hunt down the gift?
Giving to those who least expect it but need it most will bless your life in more ways than one.
The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University reported in 2007 that nearly 30 percent of higher income households give less at the holidays than they do at other times.
Another survey by The Center on Philanthropy found that 77.1 percent of households in Georgia would give more money to charity if they knew the impact of their gifts and 80.2 percent of those households would donate more if they knew they were spending their money correctly. With the time constraints of work, family and household responsibilities, it is hard to find the time to volunteer for every worthwhile organization, charity and ministry.
What our country need is a solution that fits in with the everyday routine, is affordable, allows them to experience the impact of their generosity and provides peace of mind that their money is being used in a worthwhile way.
What if every American put aside a fund—a small fund. One that consists of money saved from skipping Starbucks each morning, buying generic brands, spending less on lavish gifts, set aside to help someone else who needs it more?
And, what if each person hand delivered that money to a stranger in need, seeing the joy and relief their generosity provided that person?
An addictive and painless way to give this Thanksgiving, Christmas and year-round, is being the delivery agent of someone else’s financial miracle. The woman beside you in line who lacks $10 to buy shoes for her son, the upset woman at the pharmacy who cannot afford the medication she needs, the man at the supermarket who cannot provide a turkey feast for his family this Thanksgiving.
This week, while you count your blessings with a grateful heart, consider helping those around you. The joy you bring to their life will bless you and them beyond measure this holiday season.
Bruce Wilkinson has written more than 60 books, including the fastest-selling book in history, "The Prayer of Jabez" and his newest book, "The God Pocket." Wilkinson is the founder of several global initiatives including Heart for Africa, Walk Thru the Bible and WorldTeach.