blog 4Something that sets the Family Giving Tree apart from many other nonprofits, and specifically nonprofits which distribute holiday gifts, is the fact that we seek out the exact wish from recipients listed on our Holiday Wish Cards. Thousands of volunteers spend hours interviewing recipients from Bay Area nonprofit and social service agencies, asking them “What do you want as your gift?” This one question may be the only empowerment a child may get this year.

Many of us are blessed to take for granted the daily choices we have in our lives. Not only do we have personal control over our actions, desires, wants and needs, but we are able to extend this power to our children, allowing them to have control over their lives. Daily, I am able to ask my kids, “What do you want for breakfast?”, “What do you want to wear to school?” “What movie do you want to watch?” I am fortunate to be able to provide this control, and raise my children with the confidence that the power of choice allows. Unfortunately many of our recipients are unable to have this power in their own lives.

Our recipients come from all different walks of life, many are hard-working and want to provide for their families, but at times need to lean on their communities for support. I can imagine how incredibly difficult as a parent it must be, to want to provide a life of choice to your child but not have the power to do so. Many of the children the Family Giving Tree supports, do not know where they will be sleeping each night, as they do not have a bed of their own. They do not get the choice of what food they will be eating, or what clothes they will be wearing. They simply live off what is available at any given moment.

This is why it is so vital to me and to the Family Giving Tree mission, to provide our recipients with their exact wish. In this small way, we are allowing them the power of choice in their own lives. Giving them this one thing, something they’ve desired, allowing them this simple request, allows them to feel powerful and control a piece of their lives. Every child should be allowed to experience the power and control of his or her choices.

This holiday season, I want to thank you for working with me to create a space, which allows a child to feel empowered. The idea of providing an exact wish allows our recipients to know that someone in the world has taken the time to select a gift for them that is exactly what they wished for. The idea of the exact wish also provides these children with a sense of personal acknowledgement: you matter. Your needs- no matter how big or small- matter. May we continue to be fortunate to provide this not only to our own children and grandchildren, but to the children in our communities as well.