By DANA DITTMAR
While I was island hopping in the Florida Keys over Thanksgiving, eating crab and washing it down with the coldest beer I could find, several of my friends were serving turkey and dressing to the needy at their church. While I was thankful for the balmy ocean breezes and all the tiki bars from Marathon to Key West, I know in my heart of hearts they had the better holiday. I had a great time, but they had the experience of giving of themselves, which is always more rewarding.
The line “It’s better to give than to receive,” has been repeated so often it has become almost meaningless, but it is so true.
Last week, we held an appreciation breakfast for our chamber volunteers. These are the wonderful people who give of their time to help us update our website, keep our scrapbook, answer phones and help visitors who come through the door. They take our event photos, set up the tables for our luncheons, sell raffle tickets and then stay to clean up. They get up early to help at our golf tournament and put out-of-season decorations up in our attic. They send faxes and make copies. They are there every week without expecting one wrinkled dollar in return.
So last week we threw them a party, hosted at Belvedere Commons, and gave them a little something extra. Several local businesses came together to donate gift cards, wine, tree ornaments and more to make sure our volunteers know just how much we truly appreciate them.
And you know what? It felt so good to give back to these wonderful people. More than one business actually thanked me for giving them the opportunity to donate something.
This time of year we think more about giving than we do any other time. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, we turn our thoughts to those who are less fortunate and those who do so much for us behind the scenes. We send a check or a gift card to the anonymous person who makes sure our newspaper is at the end of our driveway. We take cookies to a neighbor who can’t get out. We pick the name of a child off the Angel Tree to make sure they have gifts under the tree on Christmas morning.
The other line that is overly used but is also true is: “I wish this outpouring of giving lasted all year long and didn’t die off after the holidays.”
It’s easy to continue it. For 2017, find an organization you believe in, and give them just four hours a month of your time. Give that child on the Angel Tree one small item every month. It doesn’t take much, a T-shirt, a coupon to McDonalds or school supplies. Mark it on your calendar and make sure you do something for someone every month. When you add this to your Attitude of Gratitude, your 2017 will be the most amazing year of your life.
It even beats a margarita in the Florida Keys.