The Gift of Giving

We teach our children many things while they’re growing up. They learn about hard work, responsibility, and kindness. We take them to church, send them to school and sign them up for summer camp, dance, soccer and so much more. That’s what parents do.

The art of giving is another lesson some families begin teaching when their children are very young because the practice of helping others can be transformative in the life of a child.

Sure, most children learn how to give. Giving is woven into the fabric of our society. We hear about a cause, and we contribute, or we volunteer, but the kind of giving some families teach goes much deeper than that.

Intentional giving is the kind of thing that involves time, thought, energy and passion. It’s the kind of sharing that can bring special satisfaction and the fulfilment that comes from personal involvement and ownership.

Families often tie lessons in giving to the holidays, birthdays, or other special times, and the lessons start with monetary gifts. The amounts can vary. Maybe $50 or as much as $1,000, but this money is not to spend. This money is to give away, and the child is responsible for deciding where it will go.

The purpose of this lesson is to teach children the essence of intentional giving, which involves research. They might visit an organization or two, explore volunteer opportunities, and learn how their gifts will help. Through their experience, children find new passions and voices for advocacy.

These are important life lessons that children can carry into adulthood. Again, giving is part of life. We all have received invitations to galas, and other fund-raising events and we’ve all made contributions. But, when we stop to think about who we want to support and make that special gift, we feel more connected, closer to our community and our passion for giving grows.

But giving isn’t only about money. Time can be even more valuable than money, and there are many ways to volunteer. Families can serve a holiday meal at a homeless shelter, pick up trash at a park, or volunteer with a local charity. Opportunities to help are never far away, and potential benefits are enormous.

Did you know health and wellness are enhanced through giving? According to the Cleveland Clinic, giving can increase self-esteem, bring greater happiness, satisfaction and it can lower stress levels. Giving can also lower blood pressure and improve longevity.

Think about the last time you gave a friend or relative a special present for their birthday or some other occasion. You probably walked away feeling just as happy as the person who received the gift, and research backs that up. Giving can create a “warm feeling” inside of us, which originates from a region in our brains associated with pleasure, trust, and connection with others. No wonder they say giving is contagious.

There’s a whole world of adventure, excitement and wonder competing for our children’s attention, and the art of giving is easily overshadowed. But if they are given an opportunity to unwrap this gift, remove it from its box and try it out, they just might find a treasure they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Vanlandingham: Nonprofits need hand in post-COVID-19 recovery

The worst pandemic in a century has left plenty of mayhem to untangle before life can get back to normal. Small businesses are regaining footing amid a worker shortage, prices are rising and supplies of everything from new cars to washing machines are tight.

While those are among issues capturing headlines, there are other wounds in our community that need attention.

Imagine what it must have been like to operate a nonprofit last year. Many saw demand for services spike while income from contributions dropped and volunteer enthusiasm waned.

Like small businesses, nonprofits this year are struggling to get back, and they are competing for volunteers in one of the worst worker shortages in memory.

So, as we move into the second half of 2021, remember the role nonprofits play in strengthening communities. Nonprofits are on the front lines, feeding the hungry, providing supplies to new mothers in need, offering health care and rescuing abandoned animals. They support the arts, promote literacy, provide social services, and more.

Financial contributions and volunteer time go hand in hand, and both are necessary for an organization’s success.

Donations help organizations pay rent, utilities and administrative costs. All nonprofits depend on support from contributors, foundations, and grants, but sometimes, the most important gift is time.

Volunteers are an essential resource. They help with day-to-day operations, serve as board members, and provide professional services such as accounting, marketing, legal assistance and fundraising.

Donating time and being involved strengthens ties to the community because volunteers see a side of life they might not see otherwise. And volunteerism is not just for adults. Children can learn the importance of giving, and their experiences can show how much they have been blessed in their lives.

There are many ways to donate. There are conventional ways through credit cards, checks and cash, but there are methods that offer greater tax benefits. A Donor-Advised Fund functions a little like a foundation. The owner can make deposits into the fund, where it can grow through investments. At any time, money from the fund can be donated to a nonprofit organization. The benefit is that tax laws allow an immediate tax deduction when money is deposited.

Whether providing support through time or money, it is important to find the right fit. There are many organizations that serve a variety of causes, so volunteers and donors should follow their passions as they search for organizations to help.

The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits is a first step in locating nonprofits that share similar interests. Follow the link to the center’s member directory to find organizations according to location, population served, and mission focus: Oklahoma Center For Nonprofits (