A New Christmas Tradition

Tuesday, March 04, 2008 | posted by Global Playground News |
What is the recipe for the best Christmas ever? For some, the warm and sleepy feeling of a stomach full of Christmas cookies and other delights. For others, a shortage of outlets to plug in their new gadgets. For the Beard family in western Virginia, largely dispensing with exchanging gifts this past Christmas and instead collectively making a donation to Global Playground.

As wads of tattered wrapping paper were trashed and gifts were jammed into trunks the Christmas before, Gwen Beard's brother-in-law, Dale Poynter, suggested that the Beard family adopt a new family tradition. Instead of just giving "stuff," he said, perhaps they should adopt a new family tradition of giving one present each and focusing their remaining gift-giving efforts on a charity. This suggestion struck a chord with Gwen who had long desired to move away from accumulating more "things" to giving gifts that continued to benefit others.

Which charity should receive their donation though? The choices were many. As the Beard family evaluated several charities, they were passionate about making sure that their donation would continue to have an impact long after Christmas. They also wanted to focus on a charity that receives relatively less attention during the holiday bell-ringing season. And so, with this agreed criteria, Gwen suggested Global Playground, and the rest of the Beard family wholeheartedly agreed.

With Global Playground selected, the new Christmas tradition was set into motion. Gwen, a grade school teacher, took information she received from Global Playground and created booklets for her family to learn about the communities they would be touching. The nine family members then arrived on Christmas day with just one present to place under the tree, an envelope in hand containing their donation, and a less stressed disposition due to a shorter shopping list. Each family member handed their envelope over to Gwen's mother who tallied the donations. This was the moment for which Gwen had been waiting. "I was so excited I couldn't stand it. I couldn't wait to see what we had done," she recalled. "I hoped it was a lot of money that would make a difference that would go on and on."

As a family with little travel experience in the developing world, the new tradition sparked both enthusiasm and interest. Gwen and Jeff, Gwen's son, expressed remarkable enthusiasm toward Global Playground and are hopeful that at some point they will be able to see firsthand the communities their family is helping. The new tradition also resulted in friends, other family members, and students becoming interested in Global Playground and its projects in Uganda and Cambodia. Jeff noted, "While we didn't toot our own horns, our friends were very intrigued and excited." Gwen's students also became intrigued when Gwen explained during a unit on Africa that her family's new Christmas tradition would give more than three hundred children in Uganda the opportunity to attend school for the first time.

To date, this was the best Christmas ever, according to Gwen. The Beard family agrees that they should repeat it again next year . . . perhaps with a new twist!

-Kerry Loughran

If you have undertaken a novel fundraising effort for Global Playground, we would love to hear about it. Feel free to call us at 1-800-998-9348 or write us at info@theglobalplayground.org.