Even a little makes a big difference


Tamara O'Shaughnessy


From the editor
We have a few holiday traditions that I treasure in my family, including the annual Christmas Eve trek to the Museum of Science and Industry to see the trees at the Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light exhibit. But no tradition feels as satisfying as the ones that involve doing something for others.

Every year for their school’s holiday food drive, the kids delight in filling grocery bags for the needy in our community. They pick out the food they like for the kids they imagine eating it. This year, with so much talk about the economy and the daily reminder that our neighbors have yet to recover from the September flood, my 9-year-old worrier, Arlee, had a lot of questions as she put her first fistful of coins into the Salvation Army red kettle and shopped for our food donations.

Some of the questions were difficult because there are no easy answers. But as we went aisle to aisle in the grocery store, we talked about what it means to not have enough money to buy food or new clothes, we talked about why we can’t afford to buy the house she’d love to have and we talked about whether any of her friends needed things their parents couldn’t afford.

Mostly we talked about how even a little bit can make a big difference. If we all do a little bit, imagine how much could be accomplished, she decided as we checked out.

This month while you’ll find great toys for the Christmas wish list, you will also hear from a few kids involved in the Me & My Dad program through their Jewish Community Center who are trying to make this a happier holiday for others. "It makes me feel happy when I do something good for someone," 11-year-old Robbie Gurolnick tells our writer, Laura Schocker.

All over Chicago and the suburbs, parents and kids are finding ways to help others, whether through organizations or through personal gestures as simple as putting pocket change into the red kettles. The important thing is they are doing something to celebrate a season of giving, not just a season of receiving. Such lessons in empathy, compassion and goodness are priceless and make this a better place to live.

I wish you all a happy holiday.



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