Embrace the giving spirit this holiday season

The holidays are a time when people strive to be generous. As college students with little to no resources, it can be difficult to find ways to give back to our community.

As Christians, we are encouraged to give generously and continuously. However, it can be a challenge to find ways to give back when financial resources are limited.

First, it is vital to understand the difference between charity and philanthropy when being generous. It can be easiest around the holidays to make a one-time gift in the spirit of giving, without really knowing where that gift is going or what difference it will really make.

Steve Gunderson, former President & CEO of the Council on Foundations, said: Charity tends to be a short-term, emotional, immediate response, focused primarily on rescue and relief, whereas philanthropy is much more long-term, more strategic and focused on rebuilding.”

Often charity can tend to be short-term, but philanthropy is a lifestyle we can begin choosing this holiday season. This decision will produce long-term sustainable effects for the community.

As students, Abilene is our current home. We have the opportunity to invest and become a part of something bigger by donating our time and skills to the many non-profits around us.

The good news is that there are many ways to be involved philanthropically this holiday season beyond donating money. Giving resources does not necessarily have to translate into financial resources, if that is not an option for you.

You can give back and be generous with your time or skills, in addition to money. Philanthropy means participating in the creation of a better world, and we would argue that this is realistic and beneficial for even college students.

Choosing to actively give back by volunteering your time either instead of or in addition to money tends to produce a deeper commitment to generosity. When you spend time working at a food bank, or helping at the Red Cross, it is more likely that you will feel a deeper connection to the organization you are giving to as well as walk away more fulfilled.

We would encourage you to give back this holiday season, but continue to give back with your resources beyond just the holidays. 

Here are some ways you can give back or get involved in Abilene:

Sign up to volunteer at the Food Bank of West Central Texas. This food bank serves about 50,000 people in poverty in 13 West Texan counties. They also accept donations, and every $10 they receive provides enough food for 45 meals.  

https://www.fbwct.org/

Volunteer at or donate to the Christian Service Center, an organization that runs a clothing donation center, food pantry, and rental assistance program. They serve over 8,750 community members each year.

https://www.fbwct.org/

Sign up to help deliver for Meals on Wheels, a local program that delivers meals and groceries to seniors and adults with disabilities in the Abilene area. They currently serve over 1,250 seniors and are looking for volunteers to expand their ministry.

https://www.mealsonwheelsplus.com/home

Donate to or volunteer with United Way of Abilene, a ministry providing programs for education, income assistance, and health support. They need volunteers and donations to maintain their many programs supporting Abilene families.

http://unitedwayabilene.org/index.html

Make a commitment to sponsor a child through Compassion International, or make a one-time gift. Compassion sponsors children in developing countries for only $38 per month to provide education, medical assistance, and Christian mentoring.

https://www.compassion.com/

It is important to research and understand the non-profits that you are interested in offering your time, money or skills to.

For a list of more non-profits, visit the Community Foundation of Abilene’s website.

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