Reflecting On The Giving Season

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This year, in the spirit of giving, Sol is proud to make a financial contribution to Code/Out, a nonprofit that provides free coding classes for women in Georgia’s prison system. We’re inspired by the founder, Hannah Hill’s, commitment to breaking the cycle of recidivism and generational poverty for women in Georgia. Click here to join us in supporting her life-changing work.

As we prepare for a restful holiday with family and friends, a few members of the Sol team share their thoughts on giving this season.

Ian

How do you give over the holidays?

Jen: I have a large, extended family and many close friends with young children that live all over the country, so I do a lot of last minute shopping online. Free shipping is a must!

Marius: I usually give food because I think it’s the most effective way to connect with people from various communities. Food is a great opportunity to pull together resources, meet everyone halfway, and directly address the needs of those less fortunate during the holidays. I also think giving clothes is always a good idea. And not just winter clothes, but clothes that can prepare underserved individuals for the summer as well, because people tend to give less during warm months.

Kathie: I’ve volunteered for Hosea Feed the Hungry occasionally for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s not something that I do every year, but I find it very humbling when I do. My parents immigrated to the United States in the late 80’s, so Christmas and Thanksgiving were holidays that they have adopted passively, like many other customs. We decorate a tree every year, but the giving of gifts part never really caught on. I think the most important part of Christmas for us is sharing a meal together, so it’s no wonder that food became a way for me to give during the holidays as well.

Mehgaan: I have given to Toys for Tots for several years. It means a lot to know that I can bring a smile to a child during Christmas.

Jake: For her 70th birthday, my mom and aunt made a generous donation in my grandmother’s name to a charity she believes in. When they told her, she said, “This is nice, but in the future I prefer presents.” Anyway, now we have a family tradition of making donations for Chanukkah (even if we might prefer gifts).

Ian: This year, with my brother deployed and unable to be home for Christmas, my sister and I hatched a plan to be there for my Mom and Stepdad who will be missing him; this is the first Christmas he won’t be home. We surprised Mom by telling her we are going to spend the night and prepare a couple meals so she can relax and spend time with our family. And of course, we want to tell Ben how much we miss him and how proud we are of him.

Mary: This holiday season, I’m giving to my family with heart, time and care. After losing my father in June, we are celebrating our first holiday season without him. We are going to give ourselves the time and space to grieve, but also celebrate his beloved family. I give throughout the year to different organizations, serve on a school board, and more, so I am taking a moment of quiet to give back to my family who makes it all worth it!

Shannon: I love buying Christmas gifts for family and friends. I *might* be Etsy’s #1 fan (or a close second to my sisters). Most of my gifts come from these independent artists all over the world!

Adam: I give my time and money throughout the year, so during the holidays I try to be truly present for my family and give 100% attention to loving them.

Kathie and Wheatie

What are some of your favorite nonprofits to support?

Jen: We recently started sponsoring a little girl from Mexico on a monthly basis through Compassion International.

Marius: Some of my favorite nonprofits are Trinity Avenue Church, Furniture Bank of Atlanta and 100 Black Men of Atlanta. I learned about these organizations in high school and have continued to keep in touch with and promote their initiatives in the communities I benefit from and serve.

man holding ornament
Marius

Kathie: Worldreader focuses on bringing literacy to more people in developing countries – particularly women and girls, who often face more barriers to education. I was a child who spent most of my formative years buried in a book. (I was reading upwards of three novels a week by the time I was in middle school!) That process expanded my worldview and vocabulary extensively. There’s power in education and I believe that more women should be given that power.

I also love Goodwill. Probably 80% of everything that I own has been thrifted or picked up at an antique store. I love finding treasures in unexpected places.

Mehgaan: Change to Humanity is run by one of the most amazing people you will ever meet, Giselle Malluche. Her spirit motivates me to help those in need and to strengthen the community of Bankhead.

Jake: These days, the nonprofits I support are Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Ian: My wife and I are big animal lovers and we love LifeLine. They are a no-kill animal shelter and clinic and work with breeds other organizations consider to be aggressive. We know how much our dog means to us and we hope that others can find a new family member as well.

Mary: I support so many that it’s hard to name them all but favorites, especially this time of year, are the ones where I can see the impact in our local community. My husband, boys and I attend the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Atlanta. St. Frances Table is housed at the Shrine and each Saturday morning, volunteers and the church community feed 300-500 people. The church also provides a food pantry and morning sandwiches every day. During the winter months, we also operate a shelter at night.

Shannon: My long-time favorite organization to support is CARE. I also encourage family and friends to donate to The Harpswell Foundation. I did a three-month volunteer program with Harpswell in Cambodia and can attest to the life-changing impact this foundation has on young women.

Adam: My kids, wife and I are crazy about animals, so we give to the shelter where we adopted our two cute kitties, FurKids. We also contribute to the Humane Society on an annual basis.  I also personally give my time and money to worthy organizations like the Decatur Book Festival (I’m a Board Member) and Maculele Decatur.

woman holding Christmas bow
Mehgaan

What does giving mean to you?

Jen: I think giving goes beyond presents. It also means giving your time and sharing it with those you love, especially if you don’t get to see them very often.

Marius: It means being selfless and contributing to someone’s life and health in any small way you can. Giving doesn’t always have to be tangible items or material possessions; I think giving can also mean spending time, listening to people who need to be heard and showing love to people in a way that pulls you out of your comfort zone. All of those things bless people in different ways during the holidays.

Kathie: Giving means doing good for others. It can as simple as a smile or words of affirmation.

Mehgaan: Giving from the heart is one of the most selfless acts one could do. I believe giving feeds your soul and makes the world a better place.

Jake: Maimonides, a medieval Jewish philosopher, defined 8 ‘levels’ of Tzedakah, or charitable giving. The 8th and lowest level is giving reluctantly, followed by giving only after you have been asked to, and not as much as you could, going up to the highest level of giving–which is helping someone to no longer be dependent on others, and doing so in a way that doesn’t demand acknowledgement. Teaching someone to fish, essentially. I don’t always feel like I do enough of this kind of giving, but I have been incredibly lucky, through my work at Sol, to help elevate the charitable work that others are doing.

Ian: There are many ways to give— but I think one of the most powerful ways is to volunteer. Working alongside someone allows for a deeper, meaningful connection that stays with you for the rest of your life.

Mary: To give of yourself you need to be truly vulnerable. Being prepared for what you will get in return and handling it with grace and care. I truly believe that serving others is what makes life rich. I try and make myself available to give to others always with my love, talent, silliness and heart.

Shannon: Giving is a love language! It’s a way to show people and organizations that they matter to you. 

Adam: Giving means many things to many people, but one way that I view giving is to give of oneself without being asked. This can simply take the form of making sure that all of your loved ones know that you are there for them with no hesitation and no questions asked.

Jake and Shannon

What are some of your holiday traditions?

Jen: Christmas Eve (or Noche Buena) dinner is kind of big deal for our family. Other than opening gifts Christmas morning, this is the only other celebration that brings everyone together.

Marius: Opening gifts with family, watching movies, drinking eggnog and just sleeping a lot. Cooking big meals and connecting with family from south Georgia and the rest of the Southeast.

Kathie: Sometimes I spend the holidays with my family; sometimes with friends or a significant other. Every year has been different. Not knowing what each holiday season will bring is nice and allows for spontaneity. I rented a cabin in the countryside last year and had a great time decorating a little makeshift tree that we ended up burning after Christmas. It sounded like a giant woodwick candle.

Mehgaan: We have a few family traditions. We always open one small gift on Christmas Eve and watch It’s a Wonderful Life. On Christmas morning, my stepfather plays Nat King Cole’s Christmas Album as we open gifts.

Jake: On Chanukkah we usually have friends over for latkes. On Christmas we usually go for Chinese food and a movie.

Ian: Christmas bars. I love when bars turn into super silly, over-the-top themed experiences. Everyone is always in a good mood and it just gets me into the spirit of making new friends and reminiscing with the old. On a more wholesome side, I always sing “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” at the top my lungs with my mom. And most years my dad hides a pickle ornament in the Christmas tree and my sister and I try to find it. I think I’ve found it only once, but I’m feeling confident about this year!

Shannon: This year, I’m looking forward to starting a new tradition with my husband and daughter. My dad passed away shortly after Thanksgiving and one of his favorite dishes to cook was beef bourguignon. To honor my dad, my husband offered to cook this special dish for Christmas Eve.

Mary: So many traditions, so little time! Christmas Eve party, Midnight mass, Christmas breakfast – it’s all meaningful and beautiful. This year, I want to start a new tradition on Christmas day to give to someone who is not part of our family. Someone we know in need, whether they are missing their loved ones or in need of a holiday dinner. I think it’s so important to reach out to others this time of year when to some it is the darkest time.

Happy holidays to you and yours from the entire Sol team. See you in 2019!

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