It's that time of year: Holiday decorations fill store shelves and holiday presents flash across TV screens. As my family starts to get into the holiday spirit, one of my biggest priorities, like that of most parents, is making sure the kids understand that "giving" is as much a part of the season as "receiving."
This year, I've got some help.
#GivingTuesday on Tuesday, December 3, is a chance to talk with our families about the true spirit of the holidays. Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this day kicks off the "giving season" and invites people to take a moment to support the causes they care about.
Now, it hasn't been an easy year for everyone. We've just witnessed the devastation of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. And in the U.S., many people are worried about the economy, their jobs, and the budget talks that are not only going on in Washington, but in their own living rooms as well.
But these are the very reasons to support charities and nonprofits. By giving, we ensure that these organizations can continue to provide relief, fight poverty, improve maternal and child health, and create prosperity. A year like this one makes giving more urgent than ever. These are the times when we prove that "when the going gets tough, the tough get giving."
The beauty of #GivingTuesday is that families can join in whatever way works best for them, whether it's volunteering at a food kitchen, donating to a nonprofit, or raising awareness of an issue on social media. This is a great way to share the spirit of giving with our children.
Businesses and other organizations are also getting in on the action. Many forward-leaning companies that are dedicated to innovation and social purpose have stepped up to this challenge. By encouraging people - whether it's their employees, their customers, or their vendors - to do more than just buy gifts this holiday season, they are showing their true colors as organizations dedicated to making a positive difference in their communities.
Johnson & Johnson, for example, will launch its Care Grows holiday giving campaign to support platforms that benefit the health and well being of children and families. The campaign allows individuals and Johnson & Johnson to give together and support many of the company's longstanding partners.
The Home Depot Foundation is also taking part in the season of giving by raising awareness and donating funds to address veterans' housing needs.
In fact, more than 5,000 organizations - from local nonprofits to multinational corporations - have joined this movement as partners. This is more than double the number of partners from last year and a sign that giving is part of who we are as people and communities. Even more exciting: #GivingTuesday has gone global this year, with participating organizations in Israel, Singapore, Canada, Australia, Mexico, and Latin America. The United Nations is also helping to highlight urgent international issues and expand the reach of the program.
This movement continues to grow because people and organizations want to be a part of a community for change.
The positive response to #GivingTuesday from so many people in so many places provides powerful lessons to our children. It teaches them that despite our different backgrounds, we are bound by a common humanity. It teaches them that while it can be tempting to be cynical and find only bad news all around us, people do care about each other and there is hope for a better tomorrow. And it teaches them that anyone, of any age, can take action and make a difference.
What better gift to our children this holiday season than to show them the joys of giving? What better gift than to discover together how to give?