kindness activist

kindness activist

Sunday, February 19, 2017

White Envelope Kindness

I love giving gifts.  I mean, like, I adore it.  I like thinking about what gift to get.  I really enjoy wrapping the gifts.  I like to think that finding just the “right gift” for my friends and family members is one of my special talents.  I sort of think that I inherited this whole trait from my mother, who was also really into giving gifts.  It might be odd, but in all honesty I like GIVING gifts much more than I like receiving them. 

Pretty pile of gifts from my recent birthday - thanks family!!  You spoiled me!
Anyway, this post has to do with GIFTS, specifically, Christmas gifts.  I noticed a friend’s Facebook posting about a special “gift exchange” around the holidays at her house, and it made me so happy.  I have been putting off writing about it because I plan to ask my family for the same “gift” for Christmas this year and didn’t want them to read this piece about it before I had put forth my request to them.  But it has become glaringly obvious that dusting the house isn’t the only thing I am behind on at the moment, so I am going to go ahead and tell EVERYONE about this special Kindness Activist in the hopes that sharing it publicly will be the nudge I need to also write letters to my family and tell them about it personally!  (And also with the hope that this Kindness Activist might inspire YOU to do the same thing for your holiday!)

The beautiful (inside and out) Kelly
Kelly Corbey comes from a large family – there are 12 children.  She said that one of the greatest gifts her parents taught the children was, “Do for others.  Volunteer because you can and there will always be a need.”  Kelly has obviously taken that lesson to heart, and instilled it in her own children (who are now sharing it with their children).  So, for Christmas last year, she decided to try something new that she had heard of: The White Envelope Project.  The project is an attempt to scale back the commercialism of the holidays and focus on what really matters, as she told me, “Giving of one's time or money to someone or some organization in another's honor might would be a better way of keeping the true meaning of Christmas alive.”

So she wrote this letter to each of her children:
"Hi Family - I am writing to suggest an idea for Christmas "gift giving" this year.  The true meaning of Christmas is about "giving" but I think we all get caught up in the commercial aspect and overly stress about the perfect gift.  I love giving gifts and I love the thoughtful gifts I've received from you over the years.  If you all are willing to do something different, I read a story about "The White Envelope".  The general idea was to get back to a different idea of "giving".

I would ask that in lieu of a gift for me (sorry to be presumptuous) that each of you pick a charity or a person(s) in need to give something to or do something for.  With some creativity - this doesn't need to cost anything.  Then on Christmas, write down what you did and put it in a white envelope and we will hang it on the Christmas tree where we gather.  

How much you donate or what you do is totally up to you.  Small gestures have great value.  We will read them on Christmas.”

Not surprisingly, everyone loved the idea!  Her children included their own kids into the activities, and the grandkids got really excited about what kind thing they would do to contribute.  The family did a traditional gift exchange for the children, and then everyone proudly got their envelope and read aloud  what they had done.  Kelly said, “I loved how proud they each were with what they had come up with.  They thanked me for the encouragement to change the focus of giving.”

Sharing KINDNESS for the holiday season
And from what I heard, the kind gestures that resulted from Kelly’s White Envelope Project were marvelous and varied!  One family member, who wanted Kelly to know how grateful she was that her parents had sacrificed and send her to private school, donated money to her high school. Another person reached out to someone she hadn't been in touch with to begin to repair a broken relationship.  Other people donated furniture to someone who had to start over from a broken marriage and someone else donated warm clothes to a homeless shelter. Someone made a donation to send food to Haiti, someone donated a warm comforter to a woman's shelter, and some of the children made food and brought it to a new neighbor.  Someone very consciously gave money to a homeless man, careful to give more than just “spare change”, and other family members committed to putting food together and distributing it to local homeless people.  The beauty about this project is that EVERYONE of any age can be inspired and involved – Kelly’s 5 year old grandson even made a special Christmas gift for his little neighbor.  

The whole family got involved
"My cup runneth over", Kelly told me.  “It was the most amazing feeling to hear the enthusiasm and see the creative things people came up with.  I loved hearing the discussion that followed about how cool it was to be constantly thinking of different ways to give in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Christmas.  I asked them to try and keep it going throughout the year.”

Such a perfect idea for the holidays - giving KINDNESS
THANK YOU for being a Kindness Activist Kelly!  The actions of your family, inspired by YOU, brought kindness to so many people!!  Your kindness obviously influences everyone in your family and, by being willing to share about it here, will influence many more people. 

So, to my family, be ready!  Letters will be arriving soon asking YOU to take part in a project like this for Christmas 2017!  Thanks for the inspiration Kelly.  Let’s keep the KINDNESS COMING!

(If you haven’t already, please “like” Kindness Activist on Facebook.  That way you can get notified when inspiring stories like Kelley’s get posted.  If Twitter is more your style, follow Kindness Activist at @KindActivist ) 

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