By Michael Allen
Special to The Commercial Appeal
Following the commercialism of Black Friday (and now “Gray Thursday”), Small-Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, we were introduced this year to #GivingTuesday.
It’s a new, nationwide, seemingly grass roots effort involving more than 2,000 nonprofits across our country joining together to dedicate at least one day during this Giving Season to actually giving.
Memphians are — by nature — givers. Statistics show it and our everyday interactions at Catholic Charities of West Tennessee (CCWTN) prove it. This week, we and other nonprofit agencies in Memphis experienced another exceptional example of generosity.
As the call went out for help from our diverse nonprofit community, social media exploded with tweets and posts, hours of volunteer time were donated, gift items, food and money was collected. Our community responded. As it always does.
And it is not too late.
Retailers talk about the fourth quarter as their “make or break” time. They are not alone. Ask the executive director of virtually any nonprofit agency; this too, is our time to make sure the budget ends up balanced. In many cases, it also is the time when our interaction with clients peaks. I feel like I spend a disproportionate amount of my time asking for help this time of year. My discomfort is only eased in the knowledge that my requests are almost always answered.
The Bible tells us that giving is a necessary part of being human and science suggests that giving is good for us! #GivingTuesday efforts at Catholic Charities of West Tennessee focused on our annual Gifts for God’s Children outreach. For over 30 years this program has helped at-risk children and senior citizens of all religious denominations (we don’t ask) by bringing them a bit of Christmas cheer.
As always we have more requests than we can seemingly handle. This year, we will help over 1,300 individuals (up 60 percent from last year) have a brighter Christmas, thanks to the generosity of the people — of all faiths — of West Tennessee. Meeting this increased need requires my asking for help — yet again.
People ask, “What do you need?” A bicycle, a toy, some warm clothes, a few cans of food, personal care items, a modest gift card to virtually any store, or a check. All work wonders. We’ll also gladly accept your safe, online donation at ccwtn.org.
People ask, “Who am I helping?” Think of your widowed grandmother or grandfather, living alone — perhaps with no local family. What might they need? Honestly, the seniors we help are generally well past the point of what they might want.
Think about the mom and dad across the street who are out of work. It takes everything they have just to stay in their house and keep the power on. What might their kids want? Yes, most kids still want, and that is OK. We try not to forget about mom and dad either.
During this Season of Giving, whether you assist Catholic Charities of West Tennessee or one of the many other worthy agencies in our community, please dedicate one day as your #GivingDay.
Michael Allen is president and CEO of Catholic Charities of West Tennessee. (firstname.lastname@example.org)