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Column: Give more than money this season
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Column: Give more than money this season

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‘Tis the season to be jolly.

Each year, December brings a month filled with holidays and celebrations that entail a variety of gift giving traditions. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, gift giving is typically an integral part of the holiday season.

Beyond gifts for family and friends, many of us are also thinking about ways we can give back. Not coincidentally, this is the time of year when nonprofits and charities make considerable efforts to solicit our donations.

Consequently, December is a major fundraising month for charitable organizations. Thus, December has been dubbed the “season of giving.”

As you sift through those requests, deciding which causes align with your values and interests, and which organizations will spend your dollars wisely, I want to challenge you to think beyond dollars.

Please, share your treasure because your treasure is mission critical to those charitable organizations. In fact, on average, over 30% of annual donations to charities occur between Thanksgiving and the new year.

Indeed, I have seen this phenomenon firsthand in my work with Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa. In a typical year, 50% of its annual donations come in December.

I’m simply saying, don’t stop there. Consider also giving your time and talent. This may seem like an impossible task given that most of us lead super busy lives and already feel stretched too thin. But it is possible, and it is so worthwhile.

Consider it a gift to yourself this holiday season. Yes, you read that correctly, a gift to yourself.

The benefits of volunteering for the community, individual, or organization receiving help are obvious. But volunteering can be an incredible gift to yourself as well.

Studies have shown that volunteering is beneficial to the volunteer for a variety of reasons. Among other things, volunteering helps reduce stress, fight depression and provide a sense of purpose.

One of the best gifts I have ever given myself was in 2018 when I said “yes” to co-chairing the capital campaign for Meals on Wheels.

Participating in any form of fundraising had always made me uncomfortable. I never even wanted to put my kids’ Boy Scout popcorn sales fliers in the kitchen at work.

Needless to say, serving on a capital campaign, much less as the co-chair, was not on my bucket list. Thankfully, I have a trusted mentor who encouraged me to take a leap of faith and to stretch myself.

Fast forward three years, and I am so glad that I took that leap of faith. It has been an incredible journey — a journey filled with twists, turns and some occasional roadblocks, but as a team we have navigated the challenges. And I can proudly say we are at approximately 90% of our goal.

The finish line is in sight.

Despite my initial trepidation, this journey has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have had the pleasure of meeting many incredible people and have forged some lifelong friendships.

I have acquired new skills and developed existing skills. Pushing myself outside of my comfort zone has increased my self-confidence. Serving the organization in this capacity has enabled me to make a lasting impact on the community that will live on far beyond what my dollars alone would have enabled.

In other words, it has given me a sense of purpose beyond family and work.

Lastly, but certainly not least, working on the campaign has been a personal bright spot for me during what has been a very challenging time for the world as we fight a global pandemic.

So, as we close out this year and season of giving, I encourage you to give back to your community, whether it be with your time, talent or treasure.

Featured video:

Monks in Bangkok fill a converted golf cart and trailer with produce which they drive to people living in remote areas.

Cara Hair is vice president of corporate services and chief legal officer for Helmerich & Payne Inc. and a member of the Tulsa World Community Advisory Board. Opinion pieces by advisory board members appear in this space most weeks.

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