Here's a Geometry Lesson For Community Good Will
Please don't think me some Dickensian character, but shopping for gifts drives me crazy.
Actually, that's not entirely true. I don't mind shopping for the kids when holidays and birthdays roll around. Toy stores are fun, even if they leave me envious of childhoods today. I am usually the one in the toy aisles of Walmart bouncing a ball with the kids or engaged in Nerf sword battles wearing a Batman mask.
And when I know what I'm looking for, I can handle shopping for my wife. The dumb-husband routine usually works wonders with the sales staff when it comes to fishing for recommendations.
The trouble really comes when the appointed time arrives to get something for those people you share so much time with all year to show them how much they mean to you - for $15 or $20 per gift.
The realization hits me every December like an early ice storm. That manageable list of presents inexplicably grows to include the school crossing guards, teachers, mail carrier, baby sitter, kids' friends (on your kids' behalf), co-workers. Pretty soon the gift budget has developed an unexpected bulge.
My wife is used to - and ignores - my annual rant about how these token gifts insult the scale of such friendships/relationships. Really, most of the people I know have little need of yet another $15 gift card for overpriced coffee or another sleeve of golf balls.
But buy these things we do, so we end up every holiday with a shirt box full of key chains, coffee mugs, gift cards and other tchotchkes that say, "Hey, I went out into the madding crowd and heinous traffic to secure you this bauble." For some businesses I've seen, that's a sales strategy.
It doesn't have to be that way, not anymore.
Last Sunday in The Pilot, writer Tom Embrey told you about an upcoming program designed to help the nonprofits in Moore County and local residents who want to do more for them.
The effort is designed at creating a "giving circles" program here in Moore County. Generally, giving circles entail small groups - think bridge clubs, golf groups, quilting groups, book clubs, etc. - pooling their money together to support a particular nonprofit or a specific mission in the community, such as feeding the poor.
The idea is that the folks in these groups, rather than buying each other gifts at the holidays or other special occasions, might instead take that money and either donate it to a group or offer it to the Moore County Community Foundation, run under the auspices of the N.C. Community Foundation.
Foundation officials say some groups like to do their own work and pick out a cause, but others prefer to create general parameters and let the foundation match the donation to the appropriate need.
This concept is not an entirely new one; it has been employed successfully in several other North Carolina communities, especially in Wake County. There, groups such as "The Beehive Collective" and "A Legacy of Tradition" have developed. The former, made up primarily of young women in Raleigh, supports a number of projects around public education, civic engagement and advocacy. The latter circle, comprised of "ordinary African-Americans," supports ways to help black males in education and collective giving.
Within the Moore County nonprofit community, the needs are ever growing. Such giving circles "can make such an impact on nonprofits who are struggling to keep up with the need in the county," says Susie Buchanan, director of community relations at St. Joseph of the Pines, who is spearheading the circles effort here.
Here's where you and your group come in. Susie and the folks from the North Carolina Community Foundation are putting on an open house of sorts. They've invited Moore County's nonprofits to come, set up tables and tell their stories to the public. More than 30 are signed on already.
Your role is to come, enjoy some free ice cream, and learn more about how you and your group can make an impact.
The event is going be next Tuesday, in the Fordham Room at St. Joseph of the Pines, from 2 to 4 p.m.
"We are not asking for commitment," Buchanan says. "We are just asking them to think about it."
I won't have to think too hard on this one. Fewer trivial doodads to buy? A chance to do meaningful good in my community? That's an idea to warm this Dickensian heart.
Contact John Nagy at (910) 693-2507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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