DEAR ABBY: With the holidays fast approaching, I'm starting to think about shopping. Honestly, I'm tired of shopping for adults who don't need anything. Finding gifts for them becomes more daunting each year. I think gift cards and direct money are tacky Christmas presents.
Do you think it would be odd to ask my adult children and other family members to select a charity they would like me to donate to instead of buying them gifts that just take up more room? This year has been hard on many people financially, but most of my family members are lucky enough to still be working through everything that has happened. I think charities could use a boost. -- NEW IDEA IN FLORIDA
DEAR NEW IDEA: I am sure they could. Your idea is terrific, and it reminded me of a letter I printed many years ago, which I have edited because of space limitations. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Like many families, we have wrestled with the "What do we get for people who have everything?" dilemma. Last year, our family finally hit upon a solution. We discussed it with our grandparents. They agreed it would be more charitable for us to give something to people who lack everyday necessities, so we adopted a battered children's shelter. Those little ones are truly refugees. They need everything from toothbrushes and hairbrushes to baby formula and diapers -- not to mention toys and games.
To our delight, our neighbors got involved in our project, too. For weeks, on Thursdays, neighbors would leave donations in a sack by their mailbox, and we would pick them up. Our goal was for every child in that shelter to wake up on Christmas morning to find packages of necessities and a few playthings.
The project created so much excitement among our neighbors that we collected enough for two shelters. There were pillows, socks, underwear, bath products, cold medicines, books, towels, baby clothes, etc. Each child also got a large gift basket, including a nonbreakable tree ornament to help him or her remember this holiday.
The cost was small when spread over so many families, but the rewards couldn't have been greater. We felt our project embodied the true spirit of Christmas. It sensitized our children to the needs of others all year long.
Because it was one of the best holidays we have ever had, we're repeating the drive again this year. When people join together, everyone CAN make a difference. -- SANTA'S HELPERS IN PHOENIX
DEAR SANTA'S HELPERS: Your signature describes you fittingly. With that in mind, I hope readers will be sensitive to the needs of charities in their local communities this year. Because monies that would ordinarily have been donated to local charities may have been diverted in other directions, many charities are having difficulty raising enough to meet their budgets. Remember, folks, charity begins at home -- and by that I mean the communities in which you dwell.