It is the final day of my 29 day gift giving challenge and I would like to share some insights gained through this experience. You could divide my month-long adventure into three parts. In the first phase I physically participated in acts of charity. Next, I gave gifts both large and small to friends, family, employers, and even “enemies”. In the final chapter of my experiment I made small donations to a variety of causes of interest to me and suggested by others.
My acts of giving included things like giving up my subway seat and giving change to the homeless. I determined my pledge in the morning and kept it in mind all day. During these days I was often reminded of how many little things I do already. Smiling at a stranger, holding a door, and helping with a stroller are all gifts easily given in this city; but now that I had one task in mind I wondered if I should also continue with these other gifts. I found my pledge had the potential of causing me to do less.
However, there were many positives that came out of this phase. One of the my favorite days was when I filled my pockets with change and looked for people to give it to. I’m sure I was helped more than the recipients of my pennies. It was such a different mindset and healthier feeling to look to give, rather than shifting my gaze and avoiding contact. I am now convinced that giving heals the giver.
The clichéd “joy of giving” continued as I entered phase II. I found it so exciting waking up each day and choosing someone to surprise with a gift. And I could tell that although my presents were often small, they truly touched their recipients. In all cases the feeling between myself and the receiver was enhanced; and in one instance I found the ritual of choosing and offering up a gift to completely shift a relationship dynamic.
My last days of giving were more remote, but very educational. I learned about my friends and the causes they support. Here are a list of some of the organizations I made donations to: Shoes that fit, International Rescue Committee, Child’s Play, Sweet Baby Zane, Vitamin Angels, Bent On Learning.
As with most things in life, the end of this project is really not the end, but actually the beginning. For me it is the start of a new approach to giving. It is in this spirit that I have decided to commit myself in this next month to keeping a pocket full of change and to standing on public transportation one day each week so that someone else can have my seat.
Want to make your pledge? Go to www.29gifts.org or simply post your goals here.