The holiday season is in mid-swing and we at the Herald are joyful to have the front page and inside pages of this edition filled with uplifting stories of selfless donations, longstanding charitable organizations that only grow more popular each year and people who possess a general sense of goodwill towards their fellow people.
Psychological studies have shown that we are far more likely to remember a negative interaction than a positive one, sociological studies show we are far more likely to express a negative opinion than share a positive one and, grammatically, there are many more ways to negatively expressions of language than there are positive ways.
It is during this brief period, in most Judeo-Christian circles at least, where winter begins to set its cold fingers around our communities from the first of the month of December and through to the New Year, when we seem to be willing to take a collective step back and observe things from a more patient, benevolent and big-picture mindset.
Such thinking brings about organizations like the Giving Tree from Gregg’s Restaurants, an organization which over the course of its 22 years has facilitated the donation of more than a million gifts to children and families who may otherwise be unable to afford any gifts to give one another during the gift-giving season.
Further, for that annual event of giving to happen in the first place required another act of generosity from another Rhode Islander, Mark Shovlin, who scrambled through his resources to find an ample space for the now-sizable organization to set up their volunteers and sort through, wrap and pack tens of thousands of presents.
The holiday season provides a platform for jolly souls like Frank Picozzi to shine. He has turned his home into a spectacular winter wonderland of pixel light in an annual display of technical mastery and creative ingenuity. He has now taken that show on the road to supplement the Good Night Lights program at Hasbro Hospital in Providence, where total strangers will help bid goodnight to children going through various treatments in the hospital.
George Shuster, another Warwick resident, found inspiration to create a “giving circle” that doubles charitable contributions to local nonprofits through the smaller donations of many people. In this way, more people can contribute to a giving endeavor due to its low cost, while at the same time creating a bigger impact than if only a few people were to donate large sums.
These snapshots of good people doing good things for no other reason than it is a good thing to do should serve as inspiration to last throughout the budding year ahead. You don’t need to go to the lengths of Picozzi – spending months upon months of time planning and implementing his light show – in order to make somebody’s day during the season of giving.
In the case of the Giving Tree, or giving circles, something that may seem to be very small and insignificant may actually become something larger and important – especially if you put yourself in the shoes of a young kid who perhaps was gearing up for a Christmas morning full of disappointment, only to find a bag of clothes and toys donated by a complete stranger.
If there’s ever a time that we have needed to foster more faith in humanity, and the kindness and generosity of the human spirit, it’s right now. Find a way to become active in your community and feel yourself become richer in ways that have nothing to do with money.