Giving can be forgotten in the festive period, a time that can mistakenly become all about receiving. But not today, for Tuesday 3rd December is Giving Tuesday.
Now facilitated in the UK by the Charities Aid Foundation, Giving Tuesday was set up in America in 2012 as a day to give back – falling on the Tuesday after the all-important Thanksgiving dinner. Now Giving Tuesday, which aims to provide an unbranded campaign that charities can take advantage of as they seek to raise money, runs in more than 60 countries.
Giving Tuesday falls right in the midst of the Christmas season, with shops already well into their stride of persuading the masses to buy, buy and buy some more. The adverts have been released, the Black Friday deals offered and decorations in shop windows put up. The world turns to focus on spending and accumulating. We may worry that amongst all this, how can be encourage children and young people to think not just about what they can gain, but what they can give back?
Children will be busy making their Christmas lists or adding to an ever-growing Amazon wish list (an activity I’ve been partaking in with relish this week) – and so it can seem that children and young people are all about the ‘getting’ at Christmas. But I’d say that’s not true.
Young people are acutely aware of fairness and injustice, the current young generations have it in their blood. If you bend the rules with youngsters you’ll soon be on the receiving end of that sense of what is fair and what is not. Moreover, children can be generous, even to the point of going without themselves. Something which some adults truly struggle with.
What children may lack, however, is an outlet or channel for that search for justice and their generosity. And that is where we, and Giving Tuesday, comes in. While young people may not have any experience beyond their own lives, today is the perfect day to introduce them sensitively to issues that they can get involved with. This may be the food bank in your local area, the homeless charity operating this festive season or getting informed on the struggle that some Christians have to face in order to practice their faith in different parts of the world.
So, this Giving Tuesday, if you’d like to inspire children and young people to give as well as hope to receive, then find out what fires their passion and breaks their heart. Introduce them to this, and then work out together how you can practically help. This could be through collecting money or donations for food banks, baking for a local homeless shelter, it could just be as simple as prayer. Perhaps try suggesting that they forgo something in their Christmas list and redirect that money to charity.
Children and young people might have little in terms of money to give themselves, but they have a bagful of enthusiasm, passion and energy to make a difference, both in their own communities and across the world. Not only will they change the world, but they themselves will be changed, seeing their faith in action. We’re all called to love God and love other people, and helping children and young people do that will draw them closer to God.