Friday, December 23, 2011

My favorite holiday ingredient

I also blog over at Red Room, the author's website. Last week we were asked to blog about a secret holiday ingredient, and I'm pleased and proud to say that my piece was one of three to be honored and receive a prize of a book. Here is the piece in its entirety.

Most of the people in my family celebrate Hanukkah, and it had always been our tradition to give our nieces and nephews money – Hanukkah gelt – every year. The amount always varied depending on how wealthy or not we felt in a given year. However, as they grew up and married and had children of their own we felt our measly little check was insignificant and probably went to help pay for a half a bag of groceries. 
So we decided to look for something a little more meaningful and more in keeping with our tradition of giving to charity at year’s end.
Every year on December 31, my husband and I sit down and make a list of the non-profit asks we have amassed through the year. Then we first make a decision about which charities we’ll donate to and then how much we’ll give to each. The amounts all depend on how much money we have allocated for our charitable giving at year’s end. Once that is done, we both take part in writing the checks, stamping the envelopes, and taking them to the post office. This process is my favorite part of the holidays. It feels so good to give back.
A few years ago I found an organization called Tis Best, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the original and No. 1 ranked charity gift card. Tis Best is a donation gift redeemable to any of TisBest's 250+ charity partners. We decided to buy a gift card for each of our nieces and nephews instead of sending them the usual check.
We make a direct tax-deductible donation to Tis Best, designating an amount of money to put on each of the cards we buy. Once our nieces and nephews receive their card, their job is to choose a charity to receive the money. We also get a notice when they’ve spent the amount on their cards and the names of the charities they chose.
They all tell us they love this gift, so we plan to continue this tradition for as long as we can. We like the idea of inspiring our young family members to make regular donations, and we hope that they in turn will continue charitable giving on their own in the years to come.  

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