My favorite Christmas activity the last three years has been shopping for gifts for our company’s Giving Tree. We get cards from local agencies (shelters, after-school programs, community centers) and each card has a child’s name and one or two things they want for Christmas. Some want dolls or games, others want shoes or warm winter coats.
There aren’t any little kids in my extended family, and the adults don’t do much shopping for each other anymore, so this is my chance to play Santa and enjoy giving to kids who don’t have a lot. the first year I took two cards. This year I wound up buying for eight.
I’m still in a giving mood though so I started to look for other ways to help people out and I found DonorsChoose.org. I really like it because:
1. It’s a site that helps out schools. Teachers put in a request for what they need and a total cost.
2. You can give as much or as little as you want. You can put $20 or $200 towards a teacher’s goal.
3. You can choose something close to your heart. I love to give books, but if you want to support an art class, a science lab or ESL classes, you can find a need that fits your passion.
4. Even giving just a little at a time, working together we can make a big difference.
Now me, I love travel. I believe in the power of travel. I think if more young people were able to visit another country, meet people from other cultures and see America the way other people do, they would be much more passionate about being better local and global citizens.
It’s also just a hell of a lot of fun to wander foreign streets, try new foods, make friends and create memories.
So as I searched the site I was drawn to a couple of requests to help students from underprivileged high schools travel to Europe. These are kids who may have never left their state before, and their teachers are trying to give them a chance to see the world. I can pull out my credit card and get behind that. What about you?
You’re certainly welcome and encouraged to find a request that speaks to you, but if you don’t mind a recommendation, I’d love to see these kids meet their goal and take the trip of a lifetime:
Send Mr. P’s class to England and France (Update 12/17/09: This one is fully funded!)
You know Jason Mraz is a big fan of travel. Here’s a pretty good quote of his about it:
“Another year is fast approaching. Go be that starving artist you’re afraid to be. Open up that journal and get poetic finally. Volunteer. Suck it up and travel. You were not born here to work and pay taxes. You were put here to be part of a vast organism to explore and create. Stop putting it off. The world has much more to offer than what’s on 15 televisions at TGI Fridays. Take pictures. Scare people. Shake up the scene. Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Who is he, Mr. Rand McNally?