shouldn't end when Christmas does
By Kathryn Kemp
December 15, 2006 | It's that time of year again. Christmas
trees go up, lights are hung from the roof, carols are
played on the radio and people open their hearts and
share with those in need. But a Christmas service project
is not enough. We should be doing more.
I love the service people do at Christmas time. Sub-for-Santa,
Toys for Tots, The Angel Tree, doorbell ditchers bringing
gifts and goodies, and all of it to give people in need
the things they cannot afford for themselves or their
families. There's no other time of year that stirs the
emotions and prompts us to serve the way the holiday
With Christmas-time service we get immediate satisfaction.
We can see the results of our efforts and can be proud
because we know we made a difference. It's not selfish,
it's natural to want to that feeling. It's always easier
to do something when we can see the outcome. But too
many times we stop there when we shouldn't. Many of
the recipients of these precious Christmas gifts need
help more than once a year.
The single, working mother of three doesn't stop needing
food for her family just because Christmas is over.
The lonely elderly woman doesn't stop needing friends
after Santa has come and gone. The poor child doesn't
stop needing clothes that fit. And even with a new coat
a homeless man still needs a place to sleep.
So why don't we do Sub-for-Cupid or the Easter Bunny?
Why don't doorbell ditchers leave food and money on
the steps in the summer? Why is there no Fourth of July
Tree? Why can't we just take care of our fellow human
beings, no matter what time of year it is?
There are people in this world living in poverty and
suffering in many ways because of it. They need so much
more than what they get at Christmas time, and we have
the ability to give at least some of that to them.
It's harder to do because one box of food and clothes
or one envelope of money helps, but it doesn't solve
the problem. We don't necessarily see results the way
we do at Christmas when we give away a sack of toys.
It's easy to justify not doing something when we can't
see what kind of a difference it will make. Easy, but
not always right.
Gandhi said it's the action, not the fruit of the
action that's important. You have to do the right thing.
It may not be in your power, may not be in your time,
that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you
stop doing the right thing. You may never know what
results come from your action." We can't stop serving
just because we don't know for sure how it would help.
I know a mother and daughter who collect aluminum
pop cans, recycle them and use the money for humanitarian
aid. What an amazing example. It takes a lot of cans
to get a little bit of money, and who knows what difference
those cans really make? The mother and daughter probably
don't. They don't even know the people they're sending
this money to. But somehow they love them. And because
they love them, they serve them. It doesn't matter where
they are, what time of year it is, or how big of a difference
it really made in the big scheme of things. All that
matters is they did something.
It's that simple.
We don't have to change the world but we can certainly
improve the way some people have to live in it. If we
did the same amount of service throughout the year as
we did at Christmas, think of how many people would
be helped and how much more they would get. All we need
to do is go that extra mile.
This year worry less about results and more about
doing whatever small thing we can, whether we see the
outcome or not. Let's care about the people in the world
enough to do service even after the Christmas decorations
have been boxed up.