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24 December, 2014


Because 'tis the season, I have been thinking (and writing) a lot lately about giving.

I have always considered myself to be a "giver", not necessarily in a monetary sense because my financial resources have often been limited.  I have compensated for a shortfall of disposable income by donating my time, energy and humble talents to worthwhile, charitable causes and I consider that to be a valid and much needed form of giving in today's society.

Regretfully, because of present conditions in my life, my "giving" has fallen off, or at least I am having to be increasingly selective in what I give and how I give it.  That admission does not make me happy, but it is nonetheless a fact of life.

Giving, in whatever form, is the Christian way...It is also the Canadian way.  It is ingrained in most of us.  For that reason, I found myself in complete agreement with Saadlyhah Baksh's letter to the editor in today's Toronto Star.  It was his contention that we should give for the sake of giving, regardless of whether or not we get recognition.  "The purest form of giving is to do it when no one is looking, so you can turn off your (camera) flash and remove the lens that is blinding you from what real generosity is."

Saadlyhah was, of course, referring to the controversial "Pass the Pizza Movement" which is using social media to post photos of people donating pizza to homeless individuals with the hash tag #passthepizza.  The idea of giving to the homeless is wonderful, but fleeting social media campaigns that glamourize the giver while dehumanizing the less fortunate is not the most effective way of instilling long-term positive changes on the social issue.

Trends like Pass the Pizza have their 15 minutes of fame and then something new and more exciting comes along.  Actually, Pass the Pizza is the new ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that went viral on Facebook a month or so ago. 

In today's society, I am fully convinced that people lose the message behind such campaigns and just join in because they have been challenged by a friend or relative and it is a popular thing to do.  Something that was meant to be a genuine act of kindness resultantly got lost in the reward of "likes", "favourites" and "retweets".  I really wonder how many actually followed through and forwarded their pledged donation to the ALS Foundation after being photographed as they were doused with a bucket of mind-chilling ice water?  I commend those whose hearts were in the right place...It was a fun thing to do and the videos were equally fun to watch.

Genuine pride and satisfaction comes from truly giving from the heart.  We should not have to be challenged to give, however, nor should we stand in front of a camera lens to do it. 

If you have the price of a pizza to spare this season and you are moved by the kindness of your heart, why not drop that sum into a Salvation Army kettle or donate it to a local food bank where you know it will be put to good immediate use feeding the hungry, needy -- and homeless? 

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