The holidays are about many things and in particular what seems to make them meaningful is giving. Generosity has been linked to terms like meaning and purpose, but not only at the level of concepts or language. Research has shown that people who experience a sense of purpose in their lives might live longer.
Princeton University, Stony Brook University and University College London (UCL) researchers studied over 9,000 adults with an average age of 65. They found that the ones with the greatest well-being had a 30% less likelihood of dying. Meaning and purpose have been said to be a part of well-being. In other words, experiencing fulfillment in life is tied with what one experiences as meaning and having a sense of purpose. Contributing something positive and seeing an impact improves well-being.
We probably have all had some experiences where we received money or some material object, and yet it turned out to be accompanied by an emptiness.
Christmas has been criticized at times for being overly commercial, so one way people make it more meaningful is by focusing on giving rather than trying to maximize their own gains. Here are 5 giving stories for this holiday season.
Little Girl with Heart Condition Gets Football Player's Paycheck
1. An NFL football player named Menelik Watson donated a whole week's paycheck to a four-year old girl who has a heart condition that has required 14 surgeries. It was estimated that after taxes, the amount would be about $18,000. Watson is not a star player for the Raiders, and is in and out of the rotation, so he doesn't have a huge salary. In fact, he is a young player that makes less than one million per year. So, he isn't a namebrand player that makes millions and gets extra income from sponsors like some of the league stars. In other words, he doesn't have the same level of disposable income that the richest players do, so you could say his donation is more generous.
Jack Kerouac Gets Funding
2. This one is also NFL-related though the donation came a team owner, not a player. James Irsay donated $10,000 to the Lowell Celebrate Kerouac Committee to help celebrate the works of Jack Kerouac.
"Getting a contribution like this really is a tremendous boost to us. Some people live paycheck to paycheck — we’ve been living festival to festival. So this will hopefully get us a little ways beyond that,” explained Steve Edington, the organization’s treasurer.
Irsay is a Kerouac fan and purchased the original manuscript for "On the Road" for $2.4 million dollars. He is also the owner of the Indianapolis Colts.
University Employees Raise Hundreds of Thousands
3. This story is a little less colorful but about far more money. Employees at the University of Virginia raised $700,000 for charity. They can give automatically through their paychecks to the Commonwealth of Virginia campaign, which represents about 1,200 charities. Paycheck giving can be very convenient, because the donor doesn't have to mail a check or even contact the receiving organization
$200,000 Raised for Toys
4. The fourth is also about a very large amount of money, but with a twist. Employees at Vivint, an intelligent home management company, raised $200,000 for toys to give to several thousand children in Utah. Vivint provides products for home security, energy management and internet solutions. They also have a solar power branch. The company has a charitable giving foundation so employees can donate money and time for the children's toys campaign.
Over 1,300 employees participated by shopping for toys, wrapping and delivering them. Employees donated over $112,000 and Vivint corporate matched them dollar for dollar.
“The excitement building over the last few weeks has been tangible, and our children’s faces glow when they talk about Vivint,” remarked Principal Afton Lambson of Lincoln Elementary School.
Our last story is not at all less significant, even though it is about less money. Teens in the Atlantic City area raised $1,000 for a Rescue organization, which provides food and winter clothing to the most needy. Casino shutdowns and tough economic times have left some without basic necessities during the holidays. One thousand dollars might not seem like much, but it is quite a bit better than nothing. It also matters because teens sometimes are perceived as being a little wrapped up in simply getting through adolescence and not being that much in touch with the bigger picture. So, the teens that did sing for a cause at a coffee shop they frequent very much embodied what is meaningful about the holidays – you do what you can, not simply to try to impress.
Teens Sing To Support Less Fortunate
Images: 1. Howard Lake, Flcker 2. Badgreeb fatkatt, Flckr