“It’s better to give than to receive” — should always be the lesson, not only of the holiday season, but year round.

As November rolled around, I felt the pressure to come up with numerous options of what I “needed” for Christmas. The problem was that I didn’t really need anything.

Gone are the days of my 20s when I had my first official apartment downtown and funds were exceptionally tight. Back then, I used to ask for stamps, toilet paper and ketchup — not necessarily in that order. Thankfully, those wishes were fulfilled at that time, something we still joke about.

Fast forward to Christmas 2019. What could I possibly need or use? I couldn’t really ask for anyone to help pay the bills associated with a new kitchen — including the plumbing bill.

So I frantically came up with a list for friends and family members to cherry-pick, careful not to overlap the friends’ list with the family list.

In the end, I received a few things I asked for and a few things I didn’t — but will use in the long run.

I prefer “practical” items, as my sister-in-law aptly pointed out on Christmas Day before I packed up my goodies and headed home from Detroit to go back to work. True — I’ve never been a person who needed fluff or sparkly things.

But what I appreciated more this year was the time I got to spend with the people in my life, time spent getting together with friends over a meal or partaking in my family’s traditional tamale and champagne dinner on Christmas Eve.

While we all love being the recipient of gifts, it also feels good to share with others in need — including local food pantries, homeless shelters, women’s shelters or scholarship funds.

Even though I like to donate locally, what I felt best about were my microloans to women around the world. There was Emily Ann in the Philippines who needed financial assistance buying a fishing net and a new engine for her boat so she could continue to operate her business and support her family; as well as Liza, also from the Philippines, who was looking to finance a sanitary toilet for her family, something we all take for granted.

The Pad Project also got my attention this year as well. The Pad Project is a global movement organized to give women around the world access to personal hygiene products, also something we take for granted.

According to the website, “Around the world, girls face barriers to receiving a quality education because they lack access to menstrual health education, adequate water, sanitation, hygiene facilities, and affordable, hygienic menstrual products.”

By accessing personal hygiene products, they can continue to comfortably attend school.

And with the brush fires continuing to consume the continent of Australia, stories and videos appear on television and social media on a daily basis. In a recent story, CBS reported that more than 1 billion animals have died so far in the fires, as well as at least 25 people.

For those who wish to lend a hand financially and don’t want to get scammed, choose from the Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army Australia, Save the Children and New South Wales Fire Service to help out humans. Those with a soft heart for animals like myself can donate to WIRES (Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service), an Australian animal rescue nonprofit; as well as verified GoFundMe accounts set up for the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. Many of these organizations take a credit card or Paypal payment, making it easy to donate.

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