Last week, World Vision, the international child relief agency, introduced an alternative to America’s annual Black Friday orgy: The agency has proposed that Nov. 27 become Giving Tuesday and the official start of the Christmas holiday season. God bless ’em.
Last week, World Vision, the international child relief agency, introduced an alternative to America’s annual Black Friday orgy: The agency has proposed that Nov. 27 become Giving Tuesday and the official start of the Christmas holiday season.
God bless ’em.
Here’s how to take World Vision up on its great idea: Instead of climbing over bodies tomorrow night for a $2 toaster oven you didn’t even know you wanted, kick off the holiday season through an act of philanthropy.
“Giving Tuesday is intended to open the holiday season on a philanthropic note and put heart back into the holidays,” Sarah Renusch, World Vision’s Gift Catalog director said in a press release. “World Vision is encouraging Americans to dedicate this day to getting back to the true meaning of the holidays. It is about community, not commercialism, giving, not receiving.”
Again, God bless ’em for trying.
It’s not that Americans aren’t good-hearted people; we are. When misfortune strikes, we’ll organize salvation in the form of an auction, a blood drive or a race to help a sick child or strangers in dire straits. We’ll use our own vacations to travel across country to clear away debris in neighborhoods in which we’ll never live.
According to Charity Navigator, which tracks the nation’s giving trends, Americans gave $298.4 billion to charity in 2011, an increase of 4 percent from 2010. Though the money isn’t going as far because of inflation, our giving has increased every year since 1971 with the exception of 1987 and during the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
But when it comes to Black Friday, the tiger is out of the cage. Some of those same generous, charitable, selfless people will step on the back of your head to get to a $100 flat-screen TV.
It should go without saying that pepper-spraying a fellow human being over a Honey-Baked Ham or a video game, purchased to commemorate the birth of the Prince of Peace, makes no sense.
There seems to be an underlying, guilt-driven panic in our culture that if we don’t deliver the Christmas gifts requested — or any gift, for that matter — it somehow means that we don’t love the people for whom our efforts are expended.
So we fight the hordes, though most people can’t remember what they received even three years ago, and our kids play with the empty boxes on Christmas morning.
World Vision’s desire to transform the Christmas culture might be naive, and yes, maybe even a little self-serving, but it’s no less commendable because needy people will benefit. According to the World Bank, 80 percent of the world lives on less than $10 a day. UNICEF estimates that 22,000 children die daily due to poverty.
Page 2 of 2 - A new study comissioned by World Vision suggests that while Americans plan to spend less on gifts this year, we also plan to give less to charity.
To consider the poor is to remember that Christmas is the story of a child who was a refugee, born of poor people. In the din of our yearly retail riots, Giving Tuesday may not get much traction, but that doesn’t make the idea any less valuable.