On the heels of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, three of the country’s top retail shopping days of the year, Giving Tuesday asks consumers to point their hearts and pocketbooks outward.
GivingTuesday.org calls the Tuesday after Thanksgiving “a global day of giving.” It aims to put the spotlight on charitable and nonprofit organizations that rely on donations to help serve those who struggle with poverty and other challenges. Because Giving Tuesday is a movement begun and promoted online, it often uses a hashtag in its title, #GivingTuesday.
“#GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring real change in their communities,” according to GivingTuesday.org. “It provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges.”
Begun in 2012 as a response to those consumer oriented shopping days after Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday helps consumers put Jesus’ words into practice: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Giving Tuesday also serves as a primer for all of us. While it is nice to have a concentrated effort to support charitable groups around the world (not to mention having corporate donors who match some gifts), giving — whether in time, talent or financial support — should be part of every person’s lifestyle.
This weekend, Christians will celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, a yearly observance that prepares us for the coming of Jesus at Christmas as well as his second coming at the end of time. During these weeks of Advent, we should try to turn every day into a Giving Tuesday.
Whether it’s a financial contribution or a gift of our time, giving in any form is a prayer to God, especially when it’s done with love.
Each week in the pages of this newspaper, we learn about people giving back in some way. These examples, such as the story of St. Matthew Parish’s outerwear collection for children on page 4 or the Getting Ahead Workshop offered by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul on page 3, can inspire us to find ways to help others.
Pope Francis, who is known for his homilies, interviews and talks on serving the poor, constantly reminds us that giving to those in need is not an option, but an obligation.
“If in the eyes of the world, the poor have little value. They are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our passport to paradise,” Pope Francis said in his homily on World Day of the Poor Nov. 17. “In the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor for us.”
If we understand the season of Advent to be a time to prepare for the Lord, it seems that our preparation must include a giving heart and a place at our table for the poor.
Whereas Giving Tuesday “harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring real change,” Advent can help to harness prayer and generosity to make a difference.
Find a way to share your life with those in need during Advent. If health, finances or other hurdles prevent active giving, offer your prayers each day for the needs of people in poverty. A brief prayer of giving, shared by Catholic Relief Services, offers these words on which to meditate:
“So I give my love. Because love is gold and love is blood. And love is time and love is strength. But love is also so much more. Because love is God and God is love. And only you, God, have no limits.”