This past Thanksgiving weekend, as I recovered from a food coma, I couldn’t help feeling a bit like Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Like the title character, I wondered if maybe we’d lost our way and had forgotten the true meaning of Thanksgiving. All weekend I was bombarded by news stories of Black Friday pandemonium, emails with Amazon’s “Deals of the Day,” and the rock-concert lines that stretched outside of Best Buy. Had we commercialized Thanksgiving? Had we forgotten the true meaning of the holiday?
In grade school, I remember learning about the first Thanksgiving, and how the Pilgrims and the Native Americans had come together to share a meal at one table. Whether or not this story is true, the idea that Thanksgiving was about sharing a meal with family, friends, or even strangers to celebrate how people come together to contribute to the common good had always resonated with me. That was a long way from the crowds fighting over flat screens and Amazon Echoes.
Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to take to the streets like Charlie Brown to search for the meaning of Thanksgiving, because my inbox also began to fill with nonprofits reminding me of #GivingTuesday, an unofficial holiday that has already done that.
What began as a modest proposal to counter the commercialism of Black Friday has turned into a global phenomenon in just six short years. #GivingTuesday has become a day of giving that has raised over $177 million in 98 countries—all through online gifts. The nonprofits and charities that use the #GivingTuesday hashtag represent just about any cause under the sun, and the impact of this day of giving is truly immeasurable.
#GivingTuesday is growing every year, so if you didn’t give to a charitable organization this year, there is always next. I encourage you to find a nonprofit that aligns with your interests and think about supporting them in the year to come. Our website, nevadafund.org, has a section on Nonprofit Connections, where you can find a full list of local nonprofits, if you need a place to start. Our donor service department will research and vet nonprofits to ensure your money will go to an organization that will responsibly put to work any grant you make.
I truly hope that #GivingTuesday becomes as synonymous with Thanksgiving as Black Friday. Times are tough, and I understand the impetus to search for a good deal, but the best deal is always supporting one another. Like Linus says at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas, the holiday season is really about “peace and goodwill.” The growing success of #GivingTuesday gives me hope that what people truly value is not what electronics they can bring home, but bringing the world to one table for the good of all. We at the Community Foundation of Western Nevada would be delighted to act as your philanthropy resource to help you bring about “peace and goodwill” through your charitable aims. Just give us a call at 775-333-5499.
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