A Stronger Community is a Gift We Give to Ourselves

This is the time of year when society encourages us to practice an extra measure of generosity. The tradition of holiday gift-giving sends us questing to find presents to delight our friends and loved ones. Shelters, food shelves, and toy collection drives ask for additional help to brighten the holiday season for our neighbors with limited means. And end-of-year tax planning induces many of us to send donations to nonprofit organizations.

If we engage in this giving thoughtfully, we can at the same time provide an additional gift to ourselves and our neighbors: a more secure and resilient community. If we can resist the allure of big-box stores and online shopping convenience, we can spend money closer to home where it stays in the community to pay salaries and taxes, purchase supplies, and support local charitable efforts.

Many fine gifts, as well as materials for making them ourselves, are available at locally owned stores, and from area craftspeople and food producers. Shopping for gifts does not have to be the frantic, ultra-commercialized circus that “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” and other seductive promotional campaigns have made it. Instead, gift-buying can be a celebration of community and of the distinctive products and crafts of our region.

Similarly, in our charitable giving, we can acknowledge and support the important work that local nonprofits are doing to improve the quality of life in our community. Of course there are many needs in other parts of the world, and great causes being pursued by national and international groups. Alongside these, let’s remember to help our own cultural, social service, and youth enrichment organizations thrive.

Volunteering one’s time and talents is another way, without spending money, to put the holiday spirit into practice, another gift that builds community. Whether you contribute a couple hours just for this season or make a longer term commitment, find a nonprofit organization serving our community and ask how you can help further its work.

Please consider including Sustainable Woodstock in your giving and volunteering plans. In 2014, we will continue to develop projects that strengthen our community. Among these are the East End park and development, community gardens, energy saving opportunities, and promotion of area farmers and food producers. We are planning to convene a community-wide discussion about our region’s challenges and goals, similar to the gathering five years ago that launched our organization. We will continue to partner with other groups to sponsor events that bring people together and cultivate a stronger sense of place.

See our website, sustainablewoodstock.org, to read more about what we offer to the community and how you can support our work. Or call our office at 457-2911.

From all of us at Sustainable Woodstock, thank you for whatever you contribute to our community!

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