The Joy of Alternative Giving

Rev. Yme Woensdregt

I’ve written about a practice called Alternative Giving, but it’s important enough for me to repeat some of my comments. That’s especially true at this time of year, when we participate in the annual orgy of consumerism which we call Christmas.

Every year, the last week of November presents countless ways for us to indulge our most selfish behaviours. It also gives us an opportunity to be as generous as we can be.

On Black Friday, we are encouraged to buy all kinds of stuff. It’s no longer just a day, it has become a week of indulging our consumerist appetites. Three days later, advertisers and retailers reinforce those selfish impulses by asking us to spend even more money on Cyber Monday. As if we don’t have enough stuff in our lives already.

Then, the very next day, different groups tried to appeal to our better natures on Giving Tuesday. We were encouraged to be generous in our giving to others, and particularly to charities which need our help.

We are driven into an absurd rhythm during this time of year—from one extreme to another. Needless to say, I try not to participate in Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but the wiles of the advertisers are powerful. I’m not always successful. Giving Tuesday is a cause much dearer to my heart.

Let me share with you another way to be generous to others. It’s called alternative giving. The heart of this practice is that people give a donation to a charity in someone’s name instead of giving that person a physical gift.

Why would you do that? In one episode of Seinfeld, George was angry to receive a donation to charity instead of an actual gift. He made up his own non–existent charity and handed out fake donations to other people so he could save money on gifts.

There are many reasons why someone would do this. For some, it’s a protest against the increasing commercialization of life. It’s a statement against our consumerist culture. We already have enough “stuff” and we don’t need more. Alternative giving allows the giver to recognize an occasion (whether it be Christmas, a birthday or an anniversary) and at the same time to do some good. Perhaps there is a cause or an organization dear to the receiver’s heart; that person might truly appreciate the giver’s thoughtfulness in supporting that effort. When someone makes an alternative gift, it’s really a double gift: a gift to the person being honoured and a gift to the charity and the people that really need the help.

We are becoming more and more faithful consumers. Yes, I know “faithfulness” is religious language. I use it deliberately. Someone has recently called consumerism the fastest growing religion in North America. There is some truth to that—witness Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Alternative Giving allows us to fight against the “sellabration of Christmas”. We can stop just exchanging things with others who already have too much stuff and give our money where it can have a real benefit.

This kind of generous giving is also good for us. Studies have shown that altruism has positive effects on our health. One of the best–known studies was conducted 40 years ago by psychiatrist George Vaillant. He observed the health of a group of Harvard graduates for 30 years. When they reached their fifties, he compared their health with the attitudes they lived by. His conclusion was that people who were generous and who truly cared for others enjoyed much greater mental health. (“Adaptation to Life”, 1977).

We’ve been doing this at Christ Church Anglican since 2006. It was initiated by the children of our Sunday School for a project to raise funds for goats in rural Rwanda.

This year, we are partnering through two projects. The first is a local group in Cranbrook, Street Angels. They do such good work with people who are in desperate need of food, clothing, shelter, and all kinds of help.

The second is an international project through the Anglican Church’s “Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund”. PWRDF reaches out to provide animals, water, farming tools, and other such items to help people in poorer parts of the world.

Here’s another good reason to help Christ Church. There is absolutely no administrative cost. Every penny donated will go directly to this project. There are absolutely no administration fees. Gifts in any amount will be gratefully received. I guarantee it.

Generous people in Cranbrook and elsewhere have gotten involved in alternative giving projects in the past. This is a wonderful way for all of us to look beyond ourselves and help those who are in greater need than we are.

If you would like to be part of this project, please contact Christ Church at (250) 426-2644 or email us at ccace @shaw.ca. We will provide you with a gift card so you can let people know you’ve made a donation in their name. You will also receive a tax receipt for your charitable gift.

Winston Churchill famously remarked that “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

John Templeton echoed that when he said, “Happiness comes from giving, not getting. If we try hard to bring happiness to others, we cannot stop it from coming to us also. To get joy, we must give it, and to keep joy, we must scatter it.”

Yme Woensdregt is Pastor at Christ Church Anglican in Cranbrook

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 test tube. (Contributed)
test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health launches online booking for COVID-19 tests

Testing is available to anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms

Mainroad Communications warns of coming weather event.
Mainroad Communications notifies drivers of snowfall event over next 24 hours

It’s that time of year again. A weather event is heading to… Continue reading

Cranbrook's Casey Hanemayer reaches a rating of 1022, jumping up 17 points and becoming the highest ranked player in Canada. Paul Rodgers file.
Cranbrook’s Casey Hanemayer becomes Canada’s highest-rated disc golfer

Cranbrook’s Casey Hanemayer has become Canada’s highest ranked disc golfer, after the… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

This year’s Sunrise Rotary Club Scholarship recipients. Top left: Kieran O Grady. Top Right: Nathaniel Ralph. Bottom Left: Robyn Anderson. Bottom Right: Emily Daly. (Submitted files)
Cranbrook Sunrise Rotary Club announces 2020 scholarship winners

Funds are awarded to post-secondary students who graduated high school in Cranbrook

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. Tim Hortons is ending the practice of double cupping hot drinks, a move the fast food restaurant says will eliminate hundreds of millions of cups from landfills each year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The end of double cupping: Tim Hortons ditches two cups in favour of one with sleeve

Most recycling facilities in Canada don’t recycle single use paper coffee cups because of a plastic lining

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer doctor Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s chief public health doctor says in the age of social media, fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic has been spreading faster than the virus itself. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
VIDEO: Fake news creates serious issues for battling pandemic, chief public health doc says

Both Tam and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to be responsible about the information they share

Volunteer registered nurse Stephanie Hamilton recieves a swab from a driver as she works at a Covid-19 testing site in the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
13 more COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

There are 624 cases in the region since the start of the pandemic

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Most Read