At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we believe every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential – both as individuals and citizens. We believe that by changing the course of young lives we can in turn be changing the course of a community’s future.
Start Talking is a place where we want to raise awareness of key issues that face today’s youth. We will sometimes advocate, sometimes educate, sometimes inform, sometimes ask questions and always invite discussion about the pressing concerns that involve the younger generations of today.

Monday, December 1, 2014

All I want for Christmas is…SOCKS!

Seriously, I really like socks. I will wear a nice pair of socks until all the elastic is gone or until my toes start sticking out the end. Last year, my kids got me a few of the coolest pairs of socks for Christmas. This year, I’m hoping for more of the same. Nothing else under the tree for me, please. #Greatestgift

Everyone loves giving and getting gifts over the Holidays. Opening presents makes us feel special and reminds us of the excitement of being a kid. And who doesn’t love spoiling their kids with loads of presents? It is only once a year after all, if you exclude Birthdays, Graduations, Easter, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Canada Day, and all the random gift occasions in-between.

You don’t need to be reminded that gift giving, especially around the Holidays, is out of control. I’m not suggesting that we all stop giving gifts, but here is something to think about...

Countless numbers of kids we mentor across Canada will get next to nothing this Holiday season. They will go to school in January and feel alienated from their friends who will all be talking about their gift haul. You know these kids; they live in your communities. To be honest, gifts (or lack of) are the least of the worries these kids will face. They are being exposed to things no child should have to see. They are at risk of being ignored or forgotten. They are at risk of taking a negative path in life. They are good kids who deserve to have the opportunity to succeed.

Here is where the socks come in. For the past couple of years, our family has tried to put less emphasis on presents, while trying to encourage a conversation around meaningful things we can do for others. My two boys are three and six, and for them, there is no such thing as “too many presents”. They are at a naturally egocentric age, but it is also a great age to talk about kindness and compassion for others and to involve them in family decisions.

If your family hasn’t had a conversation around doing something meaningful for others this Holiday season, I hope you will consider it. Consider putting a little less money into the presents this year and instead discuss, as a family, where some of that extra money might go. The average Canadian holiday budget is just about $1,000 per person. The median charitable giving per person, on the other hand, was around $270 in 20121, and that was for the whole year! It doesn’t even have to be money. You can donate clothes or household items; you can get the kids to go through and pick out some of their old toys to donate; or donate time. By starting a new holiday tradition you can show your children (rather than tell them) that the Holidays are not just about presents.

Tell us about it. We would love to hear how your family has chosen to give back to your community. It may even inspire others to do the same. While you are at it, why not share with us your #GreatestGift of the Holiday Season? What was your favourite holiday moment? What is your family’s greatest Holiday tradition? Tweet us pics, stories, videos of your #GreatestGift to @BBBSC or post them to our facebook page. It can be something simple. Just don’t make it about “stuff”.

Finally, if your family does decide to donate, this is why we believe an investment in Big Brothers Big Sisters is the Greatest Gift you will make all year...

Big Brothers Big Sisters is equipping children in your community with the tools they need to overcome the challenges they will face. In doing so, we are helping young people reach their full potential. Our paid, professional caseworkers, across the country, are supporting important relationships between at-risk young people and volunteer mentors each and every day. Our mentors are not superheroes. They show up and they listen, and, in many cases, this alone can make all the difference in the world to a child who needs extra guidance and support. Donate.

Garner Beckett
Director, Development
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada

1Statistics Canada - Charitable Donors

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