The holiday season is in full swing, and as commentator Dennis Whittle notes, many people are once again wondering if the spirit of "giving back" has been replaced by consumerism.
Whittle is the founder and CEO of Global Giving. What do you think? Tell us on the Commentary Forum.
The situation for so many around the world and here at home in D.C. is bleak.
A report released last month by the Department of Agriculture on the growing hunger problem in the U.S. highlighted the grim statistic that nearly one in four children struggled to get enough to eat last year.
In times like these, we should begin to take stock of what we spend our money on and re-evaluate our priorities.
Do we really want to teach our children and grandchildren that the holidays are about the latest toy, or the newest DVD? Or do we want to teach them about generosity, empathy and how to make the world a better place?
Despite the economic woes upon us, the generous nature of the American people has not gone away.
And if last year's historic election has shown us anything, it is the immense power of the individual to bring about change even through the power of small donations.
Online tools have certainly made such civic engagement easier. But whether it's online or a more traditional method, let's embrace this lesson and continue to harness that power to make positive change in the world.
In lieu of traditional gift-giving, consider a gift that gives back. One easy way to find a great gift is through GlobalGiving.org, the online marketplace for philanthropy.
It's where you can purchase a gift card for as little as $10, that allows the recipient to choose from thousands of earth-changing projects, locally and around the world. You can even donate in the name of a loved one.
In D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood, you can help public school kids explore career options or fund after-school learning programs.
You can fund a therapeutic summer camp for autistic children or help empower students by teaching them to use photography and their voices to build support for social change.
If you are inclined to give outside of the U.S., there are many of opportunities to do that as well…from sending a girl in Afghanistan to school, to funding a micro-loan for a farmer in Guatemala, to helping victims of the recent natural disasters in South East Asia.
As efforts continue to sort out the economic crisis and to chart our way back to prosperity, let us tap into a great tradition by teaching our children and grandchildren that the holidays - in good times and bad - are about giving thanks for what we have and for helping those in need.
I’m Dennis Whittle.