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Christmas with Dignity

November 13, 2023

As the holiday season is approaching there are so many ways to engage to help people who are struggling to make ends meet. Most people are more generous during this time and there are many causes to support. But I sometimes wonder if the amount of turkeys, food boxes and Christmas gifts are helping or harming.

In Community Development we often talk about moving from relief to restoring and developing. When a crisis hits we need to do relief work (e.g the flooding in Planada), we needed to engage and help find shelter, clothing and food, that was needed at the that time. Restoration happens after the initial crisis, when we partner with the people who experienced a major crisis to help them get things restored (like the rebuilding of their homes). Development comes into place when we work together to help people move into a situation where this will not happen again (e.g. reinforce the dams, have raised flooring).

Let’s think about the holiday season. How much money is being spent during the Holiday season to provide for people? Are the people really in need? Are the families going through a crisis that warrants the extra help? Or have people gotten so used to getting the things that we don’t even plan on taking care of it ourselves?

I think the bigger question is: who are doing it for? Are we helping others to make us feel better or do we really want to bless and empower a family? Are we doing it be because we have always done it or because we know a family who could use some encouragement?

What if we start to rethink it? Give the dignity back to the families and help them move forward? Can we pivot just a bit?

At LifeLine CDC, we have a “Christmas with Dignity” store. We recognize that many are struggling, but we also want to empower our families. So we get new toys donated that we price at 20% of the value (so a $20 gift costs $4) and we set up a storefront in our Community Centers and parents can come and shop for their children, wrap the gifts and take it home themselves. Knowing they have the dignity to provide for their children. We recognize that the times are difficult, but we want to help people move forward and engage in the wellbeing of their children. The money that comes in, goes back into our youth programs with kids.

We are an amazingly giving community./l;./≤h and maybe we could rethink our giving just a bit? What if you gave money to a non profit that is working with under-resourced community members and help them to provide the resources that are needed to help families move out of poverty? What if we get to know a family throughout the year and partner with them to learn and grow together?

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