Making New Traditions


"You have only one life to live. Outside of work and family, give 1/3 to your favorite charity, 1/3 to community service and 1/3 to a service organization. It makes you complete."  -Gary Sain

I always remember waking up to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and going with my dad to the Salvation Army to pass out stuffed animals to the kids.

It was important to my dad to show me the importance of giving back and to expose me to how other parts of the world live. Although my parents were strict and protective, I never felt sheltered. It gave me a deeper appreciation for my surroundings and opportunities. 

After my father passed away, the stuffed animal drive stopped. As I was going through my closet, I noticed about 150 stuffed animals I had collected over the years, and I know what you're thinking, "Why did I keep them?" Well, each stuffed animal was very sentimental to me because my dad would bring one home from every business trip. 

That's when I had the idea to rekindle my dad's tradition. In twelve days I collected more than 500 stuffed animals. My mom and I personally passed them out to the adults and children at the Salvation Army Thanksgiving Day Feast. 

Dealing with the Holidays after experiencing great loss became very lonely and dreadful. I got to the point where I hated Christmas because it was a constant reminder of what I had lost and what could have been. 

Sometimes our pain can be alleviated by helping those in need. Through tragedy, new traditions are born.  

We sometimes forget about those in need, especially during the holidays. Seeing the smile on the children's face when I gave them a stuffed animal is something you don't see when you write a check. 

1. Do you give back to the community?

2. What motivates you to get involved?

3. Is there a story as to why you chose a specific charity? 

4. What have you learned about yourself by giving back?

5. Is your outlook on life the same or has it changed?