Have you made your list and checked it twice? The stores are jammed with holiday shoppers looking for just the right gifts for all of the special someones in their lives. Have you ever paused and attempted to remember what you gave or received as gifts last year? Perimenopausal memory issues notwithstanding, most of us would have to think a while to remember. Now, I think gift giving is a wonderful way to let friends and family know they are appreciated and loved. I’m also not opposed to receiving gifts either. What’s more fun than that moment of expectation when you unwrap a gift? Still, a few things have happened recently that have caused me to think about this wonderful season a little differently. I’ve been wondering how to keep the sentiment of gift giving but change the gift into something a little more memorable.
David and I have friends in the Northeast and were deeply concerned and saddened by the destruction and loss of life caused recently by Hurricane Sandy and another powerful storm that hit the region just 9 days later. Communities there have experienced tremendous devastation and will be recovering and rebuilding for a long time. Many lives have been lost. New Jersey, Staten Island, and the Rockaways were especially hard hit, and a fire burned more than 100 homes to the ground in Breezy Point, Queens. We certainly have been saddened by the news, but it may have been difficult for some of us in our warm and dry, west coast homes to relate to what the people in these communities back east are going through. It only takes the power of an individual story to bridge that connection.
We received a message from our dear friend James Brennan, restaurateur of some of our favorite San Diego and Arizona eateries. James’ hometown is Rockaway, Queens. His first job as a busboy when he was 11 was at restaurant there called The Harbor Light. This is also where he and his wife, Lauren, had their first date. The Harbor Light is no longer there. It burned to the ground in the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy. The area was without power, and homes that were not destroyed by fire were flooded with sewage. There were hundreds of displaced or stranded families, and James has asked for our help. The second storm plunged temperatures below freezing with many still without heat or running water.
To help those in need, James flew home to help with the relief effort. James has also launched the Rockaway Hurricane Victim Fund through Catholic Charities. Donations are completely tax deductible and will help to rebuild the Rockaway community. Please be sure to put “ROCKAWAY HURRICANE FUND” in the Honor of section.
This is a gift that is so very much needed. There are other ways you can contribute to the relief effort (see the link below). My readers are a resourceful and compassionate group. With a little creativity and effort, I know we can send some help to the folks in the northeast who are facing a holiday season perhaps without even a home in which to celebrate. This, to me, is the real essence of the season. We may not be able meet face-to-face the people we are helping, but I guarantee that you won’t forget the feeling you get from this kind of gift-giving.
Reaching out is IN season!
- Bringing help to Belle Harbor. James Brennan talked to 60 Minutes, stressing that although the people of his hometown community are known for being self-sufficient, they do need help rebuilding.
- For more ideas on how to get involved: 12 Ways to Help Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts.
- This kind of giving gives back. Volunteerism Helps Others AND Improves Your Health.