December is, for most of us at least, a joyous season of giving—whether you diligently obsess over selecting the perfect gift for each loved one on your list, or your efforts simply help a few seasonal workers stay employed at the return counter for a few more days. My mom is pretty easy, as she really only wants a New Yorker cartoon calendar and for me to donate generously to Toys For Tots. She does, however, appreciate the annual Baccarat crystal Christmas tree ornament as her collection has been uninterrupted for 40+ years, and she always seems to like and wear the comfy “running” suits/loungewear my wife Hope (yes, I’m no longer Hopeless!) finds for her online. Hope does a marvelous job finding wonderful gifts for her family, while I try to find them each suitably douchey t-shirts.
I try to make sure I carry a decent number twenties during the Holiday season, tucking one in each red kettle I encounter and, further, looking the bell ringer in the eye and sincerely thanking them for their efforts. But back to Toys For Tots for a moment. Nothing during the Christmas season gives me greater joy than walking through WalMart or Target with Hope, filling shopping carts with toys for the less fortunate, although it is fleetingly, paradoxically disconcerting that the employees and/or Marines manning the donation site are so surprised at the volume. I don’t doubt that the vast majority of you reading this column are very generous in your giving—that has certainly been my experience in our industry. I would invite you, however, at least once, to feel the wonderful mix of emotions I find in filling a cart…while “fighting” the crowd…and wheeling it up to the donation drop off. Words rarely fail me, but the poignant reminder that there will inevitably be many many poor children with nothing to unwrap, combined with the knowledge that at least there will be a few dozen less, is still indescribably warming. It is this that inevitably makes what was intended to be a two cart trip into a three overflowing cart adventure. No money yet has ever felt more well spent.
Eschewing the archaic convention of a silky segue, Hope and I are freshly(?) back from the NAILBA Annual Conference, where attempts to bolster our income while serving the industry are tightly intertwined with our work for the NAILBA Charitable Foundation—she as a current board member and I as a former “formal” member. The mission statement of the Foundation is, “In a time when competition for grant money is fierce, the NAILBA Charitable Foundation is dedicated to providing funding to community-based charities and non-profit organizations nationwide.
The NAILBA Charitable Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Association. Since 2002, NAILBA Charitable Foundation grants have helped to give blind children the gift of ‘sight’, create whimsical rooms for desperately sick children, provide hope to homeless mothers and children, and ultimately achieve its mission of making dreams come true for those less fortunate.
The mission of the NAILBA Charitable Foundation is to encourage volunteerism among NAILBA members and provide grant funds to worthy charitable organizations that serve to enhance the quality of life for those less fortunate, with a special emphasis on children.”
Since 2002, the NAILBA Foundation has raised and contributed over $3 million dollars to more than 200 deserving charities and community organizations nationwide. At this year’s NAILBA Annual Conference it was announced that the Foundation provided grants to 16 very deserving charities sponsored by NAILBA members, and vendor and carrier partners, in amounts ranging from $7,500 to $25,000—for a grand total of $216,500—possible only through the generosity of NAILBA carrier and vendor partners, BGA marketing groups, NAILBA member agencies, and literally hundreds of individual personal donations from folks working for those entities.
It is said that charity in its purest embodiment should be completely absent any even vestigial wish for recognition, and I mention our giving (of time and funds) simply to hopefully share the opportunity to feel a particular personal warmth we’ve been enriched by, and to reinforce the fact that our industry—noble in its own right in service to grieving widows and children—is also caring and generous beyond and outside of our corporate mission statements. [SPH]