Joy of Giving
By Rep. Kristi Noem
December 19, 2014
I am the epitome of your last-minute shopper. Bryon and I usually know what we’re getting the kids weeks in advance. But between going to school Christmas programs, decorating the house, addressing Christmas cards, and finishing up legislative work for the year, the purchases are typically made just in time to get the gifts wrapped. As parents know though, the joy of watching your kids (no matter how old they are) tear open those gifts on Christmas morning makes all the stresses of shopping worth it. It’s perhaps the best reminder we have of the age-old adage: It is better to give than to receive.
For many in South Dakota, the joy of giving is shared not only during this season, but throughout the year. In fact, 35 percent of South Dakotans spent time volunteering in 2013, according to a study by the Corporation for National and Community Services that was released last week. When you add it all up, we spent 21.5 million hours serving others that year and what a powerful message that sends.
Of course, only a small portion of South Dakota’s sense of giving can even be quantified by the hours we spend volunteering. I am still struck by the viral video of Carol Flynn purchasing diapers for the young mother ahead of her in line at Wal-Mart. And the story of the young girl from Mitchell who donated some of her toys to the kids in Wessington Springs after a tornado swept away all they knew. And the nine-year-old girl who heard that Rainbow Bible Camp near Sturgis had lost 90 horses in Winter Strom Atlas and sent the camp $28.39 – mostly in coins – to help them recover. She said in her letter to them, “I thought you might need this. I’ll try to get more. Every bit counts.”
These actions by individuals are only enhanced by the generosity of the many, many organizations in South Dakota dedicated to serving their community.
This year, the Toy Industry Foundation donated 500 toys to three of these generous local charities – the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Sioux Falls, the Children’s Home Society in Sioux Falls, and the Northeast South Dakota Head Start Program in Aberdeen – after I was named a “Champion of Play” for my work in Congress. The donation enables children who are victims of abuse, suffering from illnesses, or living in poverty to give and to receive. It shows them that there is a community surrounding them that wants them to succeed – that wants them to find joy. Truly, a special gift.
This holiday season, it is my hope that you experience the incredible joy of giving. From my family to yours, merry Christmas.