By now, you’ve probably seen videos and photos of Black Friday, where people have beaten each other up and shoved little old ladies aside in order to buy, buy, buy at low, low prices. Cyber Monday is another marketing blitz in which mega-sales occur online so folks can whip out credit cards and buy at a distance, pushing rabid consumerism to an all-time high. Thankfully, Giving Tuesday has come about to counteract the ill effects of the past few days by encouraging people to give to charity instead of spending money on “stuff.”
Although this has been called the “season of giving” for several centuries, the term has long been associated with buying items to give as gifts, rather than having a more altruistic sense. Giving Tuesday began in 2012, to challenge “individuals and communities to make the world a better place through generosity.” The idea is that the simple act of giving not only helps others, but also connects the giver to the human family and nourishes a generous community spirit.
There are many different charities out there that could use a boost at this time of year, from those that provide outreach help to the homeless, to animal shelters, wildlife conservation programs, and those that help to bring food, clean water, and education to impoverished areas around the world. The World Food Programme, for example, has recently announced it is desperately in need of financial donations to feed 1.7 million Syrian refugees as they head into a harsh winter. But Giving Tuesday is not just about making a financial contribution. Giving the gift of your time — be it 10 minutes, or 10 hours — is just as valuable and appreciated.
Edward Norton, star of films like Fight Club and The Incredible Hulk, is one of the many celebrities promoting Giving Tuesday as either an alternative or an antidote to the virulence of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In fact, there’s a virtual tower called Crowd Rise that is measuring people’s philanthropic donations: every registered donation made becomes a brick in the tower. If you head over to the Giving Tuesday website, there are plenty of giving ideas and local organized events you can participate in. So go on, give a little bit back this giving season, it will feel better than buying “stuff.”
Lead photo via Shutterstock