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During the holidays, there is naturally a lot of talk of gifts and giving in our household. Kate and I also talk a good deal about the traditions we grew up with as kids and which ones we want our family to continue. We also talk about creating new traditions that are unique to our growing family. Well, unique in the sense that neither Kate or I grew up with them.

Last year we decided that it was important to include charitable giving into our holiday rituals. There are so many good charitable organizations out there, and we just can’t afford to give all the money that we would like to all of them (no, becoming a platinum member of the Hokie Club does not qualify as “charity”). So we decided to do a charitable lottery, of sorts.

Before Christmas day, each person in our family gives some thought to the charities to which they would like to donate. On Christmas morning, before any gifts are opened, we write down the names of the charities, put them in a hat, and each person gets to pull out one charity. We then send a donation to each charity that gets pulled. Once a charity has been selected, they are omitted from the drawing the next year.

In addition to being a fun tradition (everybody gets to kind of “root” for their charities to get picked), it’s also an attempt to mitigate the three ring circus that Christmas has become. I won’t be so hypocritical as to say we don’t enjoy giving and receiving gifts, but I want to try to help my kids understand that there are folks who need gifts that are so much more important than a Wii. Or a bicycle. Or a book.

I don’t mean this to be a “look at us we’re so great” post. Please don’t, because we certainly aren’t. I mainly wanted to ask for additional ideas for charitable giving. Anything is up for grabs. Get creative. List your favorite charity in the comments, and they just might make it into this year’s hat. I’ll get the ball rolling with our three charities from last year, and those that are in the hat so far this year.

2006 Winners:

2007 “Nominees” so far:

8 Responses to “A Charitable Tradition”

  • jax
    12/18/2007
    2:16 PM
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    What a great idea–thanks for sharing it!

    As for adding to your list, I don’t think I will. It looks like you already have some very good organizations there–and I think it’s nice that many of them you have some sort of personal connection to or experience with.

  • Anonymous
    12/19/2007
    11:33 AM
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    I’m honored you thought of the Farm! If it gets chosen, you might want to consider earmarking the donation for our sister Farm, Bethlehem Farm (still under the same umbrella organization for now), since they have just started and are less financially stable than Naz right now. We’ll talk…see you at dinner tonight! Love, Aunt Booger

  • MB
    12/19/2007
    3:14 PM
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    Excellent idea!

  • Shannon
    12/26/2007
    12:14 AM
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    okay, i’ve been so swamped for the past three weeks, i just got here. so, here’s a very belated THANKS! for putting good ol’ CH on the list. that’s warm and fuzzy.

    and this is a great idea. you guys rock. of course, you rocked before you came up with this idea… this just solidifies it.

    merry christmas 🙂

  • Ken
    12/27/2007
    12:14 PM
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    For the past two years, it’s been “the gifts of time and money.” St. John Neumann Catholic Community Church and the United Universalist Church of Reston have both been sponsoring and running hypothermia shelters in Reston, VA. Vicky & I have been donating 4-12 hours of our time, clothes, blankets, and donations.

    The Knights of Columbus and the American Red Cross would like to remind everyone that they are having a dire bloodbank shortage in metro DC. As a O-pos, I’ve signed up to donate at 9:30am this Saturday.

    Any little bit helps… it doesn’t need to be a faceless charity that you write a check out to. Donating time, money, or effort at home to local charities is always well appreciated and makes a difference locally. Catholic Charities of Arlington (http://www.ccda.net/) need the help. 🙂

  • Murray
    12/28/2007
    7:24 PM
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    Put a stop to cancer and donate to the Jimmy V foundation! Better yet, do it through the fiji run across virginia! : http://www.fijirunacrossvirginia.com/

  • Polska
    01/02/2008
    3:34 PM
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    Pat, I’m seeing this late, but the Charities we’ve donated to this year include:

    Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine (to help run the facility)
    Youth Apostles
    Catholic Relief Services

    our donations haven’t been tied to anything in particular. Mostly I get a mailer, write a check, and Tim asks “Why have you been writing checks?” when he reconciles our accounts. 😉

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    […] did a post about charitable giving in the spirit of the holidays, and how we try to incorporate it into our traditions. At the risk of spitting in the face of that spirit, I’ve decided to forgo that post this […]

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