As we approach the end of another year and jingle bells are ringing in the air, I wanted to pause to remind my readers about something easily forgotten in the hubbub and bustle of the Christmas season. On my podcast this month, I feature the memorable Christmas story, “The Gift of the Magi” and the interesting tale of the author, O. Henry. In his very short story, O Henry reminds us the Christmas spirit is best captured in the spirit of giving and self-sacrifice without expecting anything in return, like the gifts of the three kings to the Christ child.
I’d like to suggest that besides finding that special someone the perfect gift—as Della and James attempt to do in the story—we can fulfill the meaning of Christmas by sharing our time and talent with those who need our help. So, as in years past, I’m recommending a few causes I believe are worthy of your consideration. And in case you’re wondering, I’ll be putting my money where my mouth, well my typing, is. I’m donating to each of the causes below this season as well.
At the top of my list again is the RED CROSS. 2023 turned out to be the hottest year on record since we’ve kept track. That led to a catastrophic year of wildfires in areas from Canada to Argentina, from Hawaii to Greece, with Europe’s largest wildfire ever. Add to that one of the worst year ever in tornadoes, over 1300 reported in the US alone, and with more this past week in Tennessee. All in all, you have a mega disaster year. Although several groups attempt to respond to these tragedies, no organization is as constant, as dependable and as resilient as the Red Cross.
They recruit blood donations for victims of such tragedies and I do my best to donate as often as I can, but always at Christmas time. (On a personal note and to be candid, I won’t be able to donate blood this December as I’m slated for knee replacement surgery in a few days and the surgeon frowns on me giving blood away when I might need some on the operating table.) The Red Cross has also been stretched thin with calls for help and they need your support, with donations of both blood and money. Here’s their link.
I’m sure you’ve heard about or witnessed the long lines at food kitchens this season. I certainly have. Yes, the economy is improving and more people are working than at any time since the pandemic but there are still many families struggling simply to put food on the table. One area food bank reported that 80% of those requesting help held full or part time jobs but were still have trouble making ends meet. Whether caused by last years’ high inflation, the ripple effect of the higher gas prices earlier, greedy companies taking advantage and raising their prices, or workers getting paid too little, the truth is there are still way too many people in need of food assistance.
So again this year my donation is going to FEEDING AMERICA, which forwards the money directly to local food pantries. I think we can all give up the extra coffee and Danish a few times (okay for me, iced tea and Danish) to provide some help so needy kids can have a decent meal. What do you think? Click the link below.
My third recommendation may surprise some of you. If you follow me and read my novels, you know by now that my novels tackle some pretty heavy stuff like racial injustice and human trafficking. My new novel, CRUEL LESSONS, released 10/11/23, is a story about student experimentation with drugs and the consequences which all too often follow. Finalizing this narrative and completing the research has made me more aware than ever of the dangers kids can encounter even dipping a toe in the “drug scene.” Did you know that a single dose of fentanyl can change the chemistry of a young brain forever? And sadly, we have all learned of students and adults who have died from a drug laced with a certain amount of fentanyl. For this reason, my third donation this year will go to NaturalHigh.org, a non-profit that produces evidence-based resources parents and teachers can use in talking with teens and children about the dangers of drugs.
In this world with a changing drug landscape—look at new marijuana laws—it must be especially confusing to teens and other children. Communication is more important than ever and that’s where Natural High excels. In fact, I’m so committed that I’ve agreed to partner with Natural High with my new novel and will donate a portion of the sale of every copy of CRUEL LESSONS to the drug prevention for youth organization. If you care about kids as I do, the organization is worth your consideration. Simply click the link for more information and to donate.
As always, thanks for your interest and I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season. Please take time to count your blessings and, if you can, PLEASE PAY IT FORWARD!