Thursday, December 11, 2008

A few ideas for Christmas giving

One of my favorite Christmas charity occasions was a year I was a nanny for five children, ranging in age (at the time) from four to 12. We had learned of a program that organized donations of shoeboxes full of little presents for orphaned children in Russia. I took all the kids shopping at WalMart, and gave them a budget for their shoebox, and told them to pick out what they thought a child just their age, their sex, over in Russia would want for Christmas, and think of a few school supplies too.

So the 12 year old boy picked out things for a 12 year old boy, the 10 year old girl for a 10 year old girl, and so on. I kind of expected them to go hog wild and just get a bunch of stuff they wanted, maybe even beg for a toy themselves. Of course, as they so often did, they totally surprised me. They were extremely thoughtful about their choices, and we took twice as long as I thought. The littlest girl really began to imagine the whole life of her "friend" over in Russia, and figured that since the girl had no parents, she must really need hugs, and picked out a teddy bear. The older ones almost got stressed out about it - concerned that their pre-teen counterparts might not know who Mary Kate and Ashley were, or maybe they were into art? One of the middle boys was absolutely certain his counterpart was into football - something he himself was not into at all.

One of the more interesting parts about it all was how much they asked, and learned about during the whole event. They asked details about what life must be like for the orphans, were concerned and wanted to know if they had certain things like toothpaste and medicine. What's more, not a single time did they ask for a toy or treat, and were more excited to get home and put together their shoeboxes than they'd ever been in opening their own toys. These were not wealthy children - I was paid through a state program - but they were extremely proud to carry the shoeboxes into the church that was collecting them.

Although it's been years since I've been a nanny, I still kidnap those children every so often. Without a doubt, when Christmas time creeps up, someone brings up that Christmas giving time, and they wonder how their Russian friends are doing?

Over the years I was with them, I took some big lessons, this one about being able to give wholeheartedly, and with great cheer when you get nothing in return not a small lesson in itself. Their imagination made these children in Russia quite real and alive in a way I struggle with myself when giving. I have never underestimated the generosity, or thoughtfulness, of children again.

If you're in the mind for some Christmas giving, I got an e-mail from the Native American Music Awards today, and they have resources on here to donate toys to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe's 7,500 children, as well as monetary donations to the Pine Ridge Reservation (which I mentioned a few posts back.) The information is below.


The Native American Music Association has been graciously invited by the President of Sicangu Oyate (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) to join his wife and he in a Christmas Toy Drive for the 7500 children ages 1 thru 18 on their reservation.

Help Santa find Rosebud so that these children may know and share in the true spirit of the holidays. Join NAMA President Ellen Bello, Tribal President Rodney M. Bordeaux & his wife Jody Waln in this direct and gracious effort.


Please keep the children in your hearts and minds this Christmas. We wish you a very healthy and happy Holiday Season.

Send Toys To:
Rosebud Sioux Tribe
PO Box 430 (For UPS: 11 Legion Drive)
Rosebud, SD 57570

Let us know about your local efforts so we may document them and include them in our next Awards Show broadcast

Native American Music Association
511 Avenue of the Americas
New York NY 10011

212.228.8300 tel
646.688.6883 fax

All Contributions Welcome


NAMA's Emergency Winter Relief Efforts remain underway for the Elders & Disabled on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Financial donations are still needed for emergency heat/propane purchases.

To Send Winter Clothing Items or Toys to the Pine Ridge Reservation please ship to:

OST District Coordinator Office
Post Office Box 1796
( For UPS - East Highway 18)
Tero Building Basement
Pine Ridge SD 57770

We Are Making A Difference!

It has been great to see the outpouring of help that has come to this community.
Thanks for your help!
Reporter from Rapid City Journal
Rapid City, South Dakota

I just wanted to thank you for your assistance, and to let you
know that your labors have already begun to show fruit.
--Russell Masartis
Tree of Life Ministry, Mission, SD

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