The Salvation Army’s Sleigh of Hope has been gathering toys for lucky kids since early November, and Linda Solbakken was out at the Mall at Piccadilly Dec. 1 helping take donations. This is her first year with the Salvation Army and she says she is glad to be helping those in need this Christmas. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Column: Drawn to the spirit of giving

Great Outdoors/James Murray

The other day I was at the mall and happened to walk by a volunteer at one of those Salvation Army Christmas kettles for the food bank.

She was standing there, ringing her bell and smiling pleasantly at all the passersby. Every now and then someone would stop and drop a donation into the kettle. Her whole face just seemed to light up as she said thank you. By her simple gesture of standing there, minding a kettle for donations, she was making the world a better, kinder place.

It got me thinking, while some were giving money, she had been giving of her time, and in the end a whole lot of people in need benefited. Such gestures represent the true spirit of giving.

Christmas is indeed a time of giving and there is nothing wrong with wanting to give to others.

However, perhaps giving shouldn’t be so much about the giving of material things that few of us really want or need, but rather more about giving in the true sense of sharing with our fellow citizens. Perhaps we as a society shouldn’t judge ourselves so much by the material things we acquire but, rather, by what we as a society can afford to share with those who are in need. Maybe the world would be a better, kinder place.

Related: Salvation Army needs volunteers to help with food bank, kettles

Food banks were once considered a stop-gap measure to help people in need get by for a while. However, because of our governments having successfully downloaded helping the less fortunate in our society onto regular, everyday people, food banks have become a necessary and integral part of the very fabric of our communities.

They say charity starts at home. So this year I will definitely be giving what I can to the local food banks. I’m also going to actually give something to one of those relief agencies that call you on the phone around this time of year asking for donations – instead of hanging up or giving some lame excuse to the person on the other end of the line like I normally do. There are a lot of human beings in need and, contrary to what the president of the United States might say, we are all a part of the global village.

By world standards, we as Canadians have wealth beyond many people’s imagination. It’s a fact that here in Canada a lot of our pets eat better than some people in other countries. Disease, drought, famine, natural disasters and wars have affected the lives of so many people. Call me naive, but I just think we could do a whole lot better when it comes to helping our fellow man. If the spirit of giving and sharing that is so evident at Christmas could be spread around the world, year round, our planet would be far better off.

Related: The Salmon Arm Observer’s Guide to Giving

There are a lot of international relief organizations that depend, in large part, on donations from people in advantaged countries such as Canada. Give what you can. Whether to a food bank right here in your own backyard or to an international aid organization, the need is ever-present and ever-growing.

I’m not suggesting to not buy gifts at Christmas for family and friends; I’m just saying it wouldn’t hurt to also give a gift (donation) to a charity. After all, “there but the grace of God go I.”

While on the subject of giving and sharing in your own backyard, come winter even the smallest of creatures may need a bit of help. So I’m also going to make a point of stopping by the feed store and pick up a couple of bags of bird seed for the feeders. Winter is here and it’s only a matter of time before the ground will be covered in a thick blanket of snow. Maybe I should also buy something for the deer that come around over the winter months looking for food… some of those bruised apples they sell as seconds at DeMille’s.

Right now I’m looking after two cats and two dogs so what are a few more mouths to feed? Which reminds me, I should also drop off a few things at the S.P.C.A. They too are in constant need of donations. Even the food banks will accept pet food for families in need that also have pets to feed.

No, I may not be able to change the world, but I can at least help make the world around me a kinder, better place.


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