December is here and we have been out and about. We had a delicious lunch on the terrace of a seafront café, overlooking the sandy beach at Garrucha. There were more clouds about today but only the high wispy ones; the sun shone through and it was lovely and warm in the sunshine.
Now, Tuesday may have been ‘Giving Tuesday’ and it may have been in its fourth year but what leaves me amazed is that this is the first year it has drifted into even the periphery of my attention. By profession I am a journalist, a news gatherer; how on earth does something like this slip past me?
Anyway, now I know that #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that gains much of its impetus through the power of social media. Started in the USA, it is the Tuesday immediately following Thanksgiving and the two shopping events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday that are becoming more widely known in many other countries.
#GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy throughout the year.
So exactly what is #GivingTuesday?
Better late than never, I looked into this and found that it was created by 92nd Street Y – a cultural centre in New York City that aims to bring people together around the values of service and giving back. Apparently, it has been doing that since 1874 its efforts must be unsung as my wife Lisa, a native of New York City, has never heard of it.
Nevertheless, in four years #GivingTuesday has managed to connect diverse groups of individuals, communities and organisations around the world with the aim of celebrating and encouraging the act of giving. A team of influencers and founding partners, and there are some impressive names in those lists, joined forces to collaborate, offer expertise and work tirelessly – initially to launch #GivingTuesday and, since then, to continue to shape, grow and strengthen the movement.
Of course, ‘giving’ is a term that includes so much more than ‘donating’. Donations are gifts of money or other items but ‘giving’ includes not only these but also gift of time. Charities and other good causes would cease to exist if they did not have the support of volunteers who are willing to give their time and expertise to raise money or provide other valuable services.
There are volunteers who spend hours collecting clothes, bedding etc to send to trouble spots, there are those who organise lunch clubs for the elderly and needy, those who visit the sick and so on. There are so many more examples. They may or may not make donations too but they do give two of the most precious things of any human capacity – their time and their compassion.
In short, in any situation – whether charitable, personal or something else – the biggest and most important gift you can give is yourself.