i grew up in poverty. it's okay, i mean it. it taught my sisters and i to have a very strong work-ethic and be appreciative for every penny earned, as well as the value of material possessions vs. the things in life that money could never buy. because we knew what it was like to be cold and hungry at times (but always clean and respectful, as my mami taught us), it enabled us to mature a lot sooner than our peers and unfortunately for me, my natural state of putting the weight of the world on my shoulders and wanting to help everyone around me, in a way, robbed my from my childhood. that and the effects of the culture of poverty. anyway, we really, truly, honestly, would not have gotten by without the help of others. whether it was shelters, churches, food donations, toy donations, i mean, my goodness. we were helped SO much. we wouldn't be where we are today unless we had received help from others. and ever since i could remember, even what we got, we were taught to share it with others in need.
i specifically remember taking a shopping cart to a mission in new york. i must have been about four or five years old. it was frigid and snow was melting on the streets as we stepped on it. i remember the cold on my fingertips...and then i recall that shopping cart getting filled with lots of food. lots of food that fed us for days.
i remember living in a tiny studio apartment and it having the tiniest hallway of a kitchen. and the cupboards were filled with teeny tiny ants. and we were eating top ramen and it had ants in it...but too many to pick out, so we ate it that way. haha, i know it sounds gruesome but it really wasn't. it simply was life. please don't wince.
i remember one christmas my mom and dad (the amazing man who decided to take us all as his own when i was in 6th grade), making arrangements to get us christmas presents. they both left in the middle of the night and my mom came back for us at 4-5am. then we rode the mta bus to downtown l.a. and stood in the cold, chill of dawn for hours in a long line of people, where my dad was holding our spot. eventually, everyone started cheering- arnold schwarzenegger drove by waving, dressed as santa. we stood in line to meet this particular santa and have him give us a gift. it was one of the most memorable christmases for me. so yes, when we ran for governator, i had a small piece of my heart skip a beat because of his kindness and generosity.
i could go on and on about this but the point of this is that i love giving. now as an educated professional, giving back is such a huge part of my life. whether it's to my own family, my friends (and their babies), to volunteering. i am a huge believer of paying it forward. always.
now that i have my own son, it is so important that he learns the importance of giving back and not relying on material possessions for happiness. i pray he will never experience the hardships my family and i did, and yes, i probably overcompensate as a result of it. nevertheless, it is our tradition to always give back. & the holiday season lends itself to such a beautiful time to do it.
we love volunteering at the local food bank & mission, donating, and going to the christmas trees at the fire department to shop for another child. we did all these things last year, and this year, since it is his first year with toys already in his possession, we are going to incorporate donating toys he already has.
what are your favorite charities or places to donate?
give me ideas!
let's get together and give time + things together!