Merry Christmas to All Whatever Your Morals – Ethics or Background

I am a Christian. I believe in Christ, not because I have any proof that Christ is the son of God, but because I want to believe. I believe that the teachings that are ascribed to Christ would, if everyone followed them to the best of their ability, make this a far better world. I further believe that this country, The United States Of America, is the greatest country in the world and it is so in part because it has tried to base it’s morals and ethics on and has tried to follow Christian ethics. I am not, however, a bible thumping Christian, an evangelistic Christian or even a regular church going Christian. I am not trying to convert the world or even my neighbors to Christianity. I don’t care if a person is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, an Atheist, etc. as long as the person is a good person and cares about other people.

Just don’t tell me that I can’t celebrate Christmas, don’t tell me that I can’t say merry Christmas, don’t tell me that a Christmas tree is a “holiday” tree, don’t tell me that December 25 is no longer Christmas Day but is instead now a no name holiday, dont tell me that if I say merry Christmas other people will be insulted, don’t tell me that my children can’t have a Christmas pagent in school because other children may feel insulted or left out (School is not and can not always be all inclusive for everyone, otherwise there would be no chess club because not every child plays chess, no sports teams because not every child plays or even likes sports, no drama club because not every child wants to act, no memorial day because not every child want’s to honor our fallen soldiers, no labor day because not every child wants to honor unions, no Thanksgiving because not every child wants to give thanks, no pledge of allegiance because not every child wants to honor this country, etc.). This is not a country of worker bees or ants, we are a country of individuals with different backgrounds and different beliefs. The majority of the people in this country are, however, Christians and the majority of the people in this country weather you like it or not do celebrate Christmas.

According to the U.S Government under United States Code section 5-6103, December 25 is a legal holiday and that legal holiday is named Christmas. Most states also denote December 25 as “Christmas”. We all know that Christ was not actually born on December 25 but that is the date that this government and the majority of Christian churches have chosen to use. Additionally, not all people who celebrate Christmas believe in Christ, many people celebrate it as just a holiday that happens to be called Christmas. I’ve been to numerous Christmas parties where many of the guests were not Christians. No one ever called them Holiday parties and as far as I know no one was ever upset that the party was called a Christmas party.

I’m not insulted if someone wishes me happy Chanukah or happy Kwanza so why should anyone be insulted if I say merry Christmas. It seems to me that the only people that complain about Christmas are certain Atheists and the people that have designated themselves as “political correctness police”. Well. in this country you people have the right to state your thoughts but please stop trying to force your way of thinking on everyone else. Leave us alone. Get your own holiday, leave us ours.

I celebrate Christmas and I would probably celebrate Christmas even if I didn’t believe in Christ. After all it’s a wonderful holiday, it wishes peace on earth and good will towards all mankind (What other holiday makes that wish.). If you are so insecure in your religion or lack of religion that you feel threatened by my celebration of Christmas then I feel sorry for you. I would also tell you to go jump off a very high bridge into very deep water (Sorry, but I told you that I was not a really good Christian. People that try to push their beliefs on me really irk me.). If you don’t want to celebrate Christmas, don’t. Just don’t tell those of us that do want to that we can’t.

Lastly, leave our schools alone. If you don’t want your children to participate in a christmas pagent then tell them not to participate. Contrary to what you think the other kids will not tease or make fun of them. When I was in elementary school I was an atheist and no one ever made fun of me for not believing in Christ and I never felt left out by not joining in as a charecter in a Christmas play. Of course, even though I was an atheist I still believed, at least for a while, in Santa Clause, I still enjoyed recieving Christmas gifts, I still enjoyed listening to Christmas carolers and I still thought a lighted Christmas tree was beautiful. In fact I thought Christmas time was the best time of the year and I was happy to say merry Christmas. However, maybe I just wasn’t as insecure or as intolarent as you are.

By the way, even though I was an atheist, my family was Protestant and even though they were Protestant we belonged to the local Jewish Community Center and none of us ever felt left out or put upon when most of them celebrated the Jewish holidays. In fact, it was during those years that I developed my high respect for the Jewish people and their religious laws.

Merry Christmas everyone — and Happy New Year!!!

Embrace Christmas Spirit This Holiday Season

While for so many people this holiday season is about rampant commercialism, keeping up with the Joneses and rushing to keep up with a hectic schedule, we should all jump off the speed train and take time to not only appreciate the true meaning of Christmas but also to embrace the true spirit of Christmas.

Emotionally this is a difficult time of year for so many. Depression and anger drive up the rates of suicide and domestic violence. Stress builds upon stress to destroy the holiday cheer of many.

The underlying problem for so many people is that they focus all their energy on what they do not have rather than embracing what they do have — that is what Christmas spirit is all about.

Whether or not you are an ardent Christian, if you live in the Western World then you know that the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ. The Christ child is a symbol of love, light, hope and peace that makes this such a joyful season for true believers. However, even among the believers, there are some for which this message is not enough to overcome the depression, anger and stress of the season.

That is why it is so important to embrace the true meaning of Christmas. You need to reach down within yourself to find the spirit of Christmas. In order to embrace the true Christmas spirit you must be willing to give. Give of yourself, your time and your love, and give of your worldly possessions. Do not think of the gifts you give to others as an obligation or duty, but think of it as a symbol of your love for them. While no gift can accurately reflect the love we feel for those who are near and dear to us, we can show them that they matter by spending time and thought to create or select a gift with meaning.

My son likes to make his gifts and spends a long time designing and then creating these items. Granted, we could have bought a sweatshirt with “world’s best grandpa” printed on by a factory, but I expect that his grandfathers will cherish the shirts he designed himself and then created with fabric paint — misspellings, oddly-formed pictures and all. If you are struggling with your Christmas spirit then perhaps you should avoid the mall entirely this season and find a different way to give?

Embracing the spirit of Christmas also means giving to those beyond our immediate sphere as well, especially those most in need. Obviously it is easy to throw some money in a Salvation Army collection, and that is certainly worth doing, but if your Christmas spirit needs a boost then perhaps you should try something more hands-on.

Local churches, schools, and charitable organizations can usually give you a list of opportunities to give and help. For example, through my church we have taken up a shoebox collection (creating an assortment of holiday gifts that will fit into a plastic shoebox and then are shipped to need children overseas) and bought coats and clothing for needy children in our community. I helped wrap the coats and clothing as well as contributed to both campaigns and it did wonders for making me appreciate what I possess.

Embrace the spirit of Christmas and find the true meaning of the season to bring more joy and happiness into your life.

Salvation Army – Your Xmas Answers

Last year during Christmas season I started to enter a store that I had shopped at regularly for years. I stopped at the store entrance because I felt that something was wrong. Then I realized that there was no bell ringing and no Salvation Army volunteer with his or her red kettle. I went into the store and asked the manager if he knew why the Salvation Army volunteer was not outside.

He stated that the company had gotten complaints from people who were unhappy that a religious organization was soliciting donations in front of the company’s stores. He stated that the company had decided that they would no longer allow the Salvation Army to have a space outside the stores. This way the company would not offend people. I told the manager that they had just offended me. I walked out and have never again shopped at that store or at any of that company’s other stores.

Every year I know it’s the Christmas season when I see the Salvation Army volunteers ringing their bells and standing next to their red donation kettles or buckets. Every time I see one of those red buckets I put $5, $10 or $20 in the bucket and thank the volunteer for being there and allowing me to make the donation. I thank them because I believe that they are doing me a favor by allowing me to help people through the Salvation Army. They are the ones that have to stand for hours ringing their bell while all I have to do is put money in the bucket. They don’t get paid for doing this they just do it out of love for their fellow humans. I not only donate at Christmas time, I also send in anonymous donations (For my own ideological reasons most of my donations to most entities are made anonymously.) at other times of the year and when there are various disasters.

I am not connected in any way with the Salvation Army nor have I ever recieved aid from them. The Salvation Army is a christian religious organization and although I am a Christian I am a Catholic. Some people ask me why I give to the Salvation Army instead of the Catholic Church. I tell them that I do give to the Church, but I also give to the Salvation Army. As far as I am concerned the Salvation Army is one of the finest charities around. They try to help any and every person regardless of race, nationality, color, sexual preference or religious beliefs. They have never tried to convert anyone I know of and they never seem to engage in any type of politicking. The only thing I have ever seen them do is help people. They have their beliefs but as far as I have seen they do not try to force those beliefs on others.

The Salvation Army is a religious organization, they do have ministries, they do have members, and they do preach the gospel of Christ to people, however, as far as I know they do not preach to people that do not want to hear them and they never require people that they are helping to join them. When I was young, I knew a girl whose family belonged to the Salvation Army. Not once did they ever try to “convert” me, not once did they ever try to talk me into going to services with them and not once did they ever try to do anything other that to be nice to me. At that time I was an Agnostic and they knew this but they never tried to change my mind and they never judged me.

According the Salvation Army, “83 cents of every dollar collected by the Army goes directly to client service”, this is one the highest percentages of any non-profit in the world. Among the services that they provide are disaster relief services, day care centers, summer camps, holiday assistance, services for the aging, AIDS education and residential services, medical facilities, shelters for battered women and children, family and career counseling, vocational training, correction services, and substance abuse rehabilitation. More than 30 million people a year are aided in some form by services provided by The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is actively involved in fighting the international crime of human and sexual trafficking. The battle is fought on two fronts: shaping public policy in Washington, DC, as well as providing basic services and advocacy for victims. They run 120 adult rehabilitation centers across the nation, these centers focus solely on defeating substance abuse. Individuals with identifiable and treatable needs go to these centers for help when they no longer are able to cope with their addictions. They receive housing, nourishing meals, and necessary medical care, and they engage in work therapy. The Salvation Army also operates 18 locations across the United States, which provide a comprehensive treatment program for men and women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Clients are primarily homeless, with limited or no access to other treatment or social service programs. Educational assistance along with classes such as relapse prevention and anger management prepare graduates for independence and meaningful employment. Each year, thousands of older adults are served by The Salvation Army through a myriad of programs. At Salvation Army community centers, seniors may find educational classes, adult day care, hot-lunch programs, and the “league of mercy,” a community care ministry that sends volunteers to hospitals, nursing homes, and directly to the homebound to provide a listening ear, a caring heart and a helping hand.

They provide needy families with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, gifts for children, coats and shoes for kids with none to wear, and visitation to the elderly and imprisoned who have no one to care for them. Families who are in desperate need of basics such as food, clothing and household items during the holidays are placed in the care of the Army’s Adopt a Family program. Each family creates a wish list of items and is matched with a volunteer donor team. Businesses, families and school groups adopt families in this program, generously meeting the family’s needs and instilling hope in those who have none.

The Salvation Army may be a religious organization but their main function seems to be to help those in need. As such they are a charity worth donating to. A charity that deserves your donations, not just at Christmas time but year round. Help them help others. You don’t have to be a Christian to give to them, you don’t even have to believe in God. All you have to believe in is helping other people.

Charity Fundraising – How to Raise Money Quickly

If you’re thinking of starting a charity fund raising event, then you probably know all the most obvious questions that you should be asking yourself. These include why this non profit charity fund raising needs to exist or who will help run the fund raising event. You need to have a clear idea of the scope of what the fund raising will be used for and where the fund raising event will take place. If you have the answers to all these things, then you’re well on your way to making your dream a reality.

Now that you know what your goals are for your charity fund raising there are some technical issues that you might encounter. These are such things as whether your charity requires a non-profit corporation. Non profit fundraising means receipts for tax deductible contributions. Your non-profit fund raising also has to support a legitimate charity. You also need to have non-profit exempt status so that your charity does not have to pay taxes on the money raised.  If you qualify for this tax exemption then you better be prepared to have a lot of paperwork because you’ll need to keep all records of everything.

For non profit fund raising to be legitimate, you really do need a board of directors. When you’re choosing board members for your non profit charity fundraising, you have to choose wisely. Charity fund raising board members can come from any background but there are some points to keep in mind. Each should bring a special ability with them and it is very important that they are committed to your purpose. Try to find people that are fairly low key in your community. These will be the ones that are interested in your non profit fund raising.

This board will set the rules of the non profit organization but they will also be responsible and accountable in a lot of things in the non-profit fundraising. They will have to make the policies, budgeting, planning, the non profit fund raising itself, and human resources. Your non profit charity fund raising also needs an executive director. This job will require a skilled person and when you decide on this position for charity fund raising, he/she should have the freedom to lead the rest and do what is best for your non- profit fund raising.

So as you can see depending on the size of your charity fund raising, it is going to be a job in itself to get set up. There will be a lot of work for everyone involved with the non profit fund raising, but it will be worth while when you accomplish your goal at the end.

You need to know your goals if you are doing some charity fund raising.

Sheltering from Domestic Violence – The Perfect Storm?

Shelters are run, funded, and managed either by governments or by volunteer non-government organizations. According to a 1999 report published by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there are well over 2000 groups involved in sheltering abused women and their off-spring.

Before you opt for moving with your children into a sheltered home or apartment, go through this check list.

1. It is important to make sure that the philosophy of the organizers of the shelters accords with your own. Some shelters, for instance, are run by feminist movements and strongly emphasize self-organization, co-operation, and empowerment through decision-making. Other shelters are supervised by the Church or other religious organizations and demand adherence to a religious agenda. Yet others cater to the needs of specific ethnic minorities or neighbourhoods.

2. Can you abide by the house rules? Are you a smoker? Some shelters are for non-smokers. What about boyfriends? Most shelters won’t allow men on the premises. Do you require a special diet due to medical reasons? Is the shelter’s kitchen equipped to deal with your needs?

3. Gather intelligence and be informed before you make your move. Talk to battered women who spent time in the shelter, to your social worker, to the organizers of the shelter. Check the local newspaper archive and visit the shelter at least twice: in daytime and at night.

4. How secure is the shelter? Does it allow visitation or any contact with your abusive spouse? Does the shelter have its own security personnel? How well is the shelter acquainted with domestic violence laws and how closely is it collaborating with courts, evaluators, and law enforcement agencies? Is recidivism among abusers tracked and discouraged? Does the shelter have a good reputation among them? You wouldn’t want to live in a shelter that is shunned by the police and the judicial system.

5. How does the shelter tackle the needs of infants, young children, and adolescents? What are the services and amenities it provides? What things should you bring with you when you make your exit – and what can you count on the shelter to make available? What should you pay for and what is free of charge? How well-staffed is the shelter? Is the shelter well-organized? Are the intake forms anonymous?

6. How accessible is the shelter to public transport, schooling, and to other community services?

7. Does the shelter have a batterer intervention program or workshop and a women’s support group? In other words, does it provide counselling for abusers as well as ongoing succour for their victims? Are the programs run only by volunteers (laymen peers)? Are professionals involved in any of the activities and, if so, in what capacity (consultative, supervisory)?

Additionally, does the shelter provide counselling for children, group and individual treatment modalities, education and play-therapy services, along with case management services?

Is the shelter associated with outpatient services such vocational counselling and job training, outreach to high schools and the community, court advocacy, and mental health services or referrals?

8. Most important: don’t forget that shelters are a temporary solution. These are transit areas and you are fully expected to move on. Not everyone is accepted. You are likely to be interviewed at length and screened for both your personal needs and compatibility with the shelter’s guidelines. Is it really a crisis situation, are your life or health at risk – or are you merely looking to “get away from it all”? Even then, expect to be placed on a waiting list. Shelters are not vacation spots. They are in the serious business of defending the vulnerable.

When you move into a shelter, you must know in advance what your final destination is. Imagine and plan your life after the shelter. Do you intend to relocate? If so, would you need financial assistance? What about the children’s education and friends? can you find a job? Have everything sorted out. Only then, pack your things and leave your abuser.

The Foster Care Choice – Right for You?

Foster care is an amazing thing to be apart of. If you are looking for a way to help someone and you have a love for children then you might want to consider foster care.

The benefits and blessings of foster care far outweigh the sacrifices. Be sure, however, that you are well aware of the sacrifices that investing in foster care will mean for you and your family. It will require time, money, energy, love, and commitment. And don’t be fooled – foster care will likely require much more than you could even calculate now.

Allow yourself to think about all of the great things that come from foster care. First and foremost, think about the lives of the children that are in need of loving and solid homes to spend time in. Can you imagine being a child without a safe place to call home? There is perhaps nothing greater than giving up part of your home and your energy to help a child or children who are in need. What a blessing for a child to be in foster care and placed in a home filled with fun and encouragement.

Participating in foster care can also be a huge blessing to you and your family. Taking in a child or children in need will fill your life with a great sense of purpose and love like you may have never experienced. What a special thing to make your life bigger than yourself by caring for a child. You and your family will learn and grow closer together because of foster care. While it is never easy to include someone new in your family, foster care can be a great way to strengthen relationships and learn to appreciate the blessings you have been given.

For couples who have ever considered adopting a child or children into their family, foster care can be a great trial run to see how your family will adjust the addition of a new member in a less permanent way. Consider trying foster care for a few months or a year as you try to decide about adoption. One of the hardest but best things about foster care is that it does not require a long term commitment. Many foster care parents enjoy it so much that they take in child after child into their family.

If you are interested in determining if you and your family would do well at foster care, take some time to research the options in your area. Explore the possibilities and see if foster care might be the perfect way to reach out to your community, help a needy child, and strengthen your own family all at once.

Charity Give Away and Do Something Great

Every person I know has a house filled with many things. Go into your bedroom and look in your closet. I am quite sure that you do not wear all of the clothes you see (although congratulations if you do!). And I am equally sure that you do not really need all ten pairs of similar black dress shoes. Or take a glance at your recreation gear in the garage. When is the last time you actually used those cross-country skis? There is a solution – a great solution – to downsize your life and do something great for your community at the same time. Give to charity. There are a variety of suitable organizations who would be glad to take your excess possessions of your hands.

Deciding to give to charity is a perfect way to accomplish many good things all at once. Obviously, giving to charity is a great way to help those in need. You may have many extra pairs of pants, but it is quite likely that many people in your town struggle to afford owning more than one or two pairs at once. You might be shocked if you knew all of the common, every day needs people live with each day. Out of your excess you can help the increase the quality of life for others. What an amazing thing to be a part of.

Giving to charity is not only great for those who receive the items, it is also great for those who give. That is right. Giving will fast become something you treasure. Nothing feels better than practicing generosity, and you will quickly find that you will look for ways to simplify your life in order to bless others. Giving to charity will also give you the chance to simplify your overcomplicated life. As years go by people tend to gather more things than they can use at once. Just think back to when you first moved into your current home or apartment. Remember how you did not have enough to fill all of your closests and pantries? Look at those same closets and pantries now and I bet you will find that they are overflowing. Do you remember where those glasses came from? Who gave you that wool sweater again?

But how do you decide what to give to charity and what to keep? I will give you a few practical tips. With clothing, if you have not worn it at all during the last two years, chances are high that you will not have a need to wear it again. Household items can be a little harder to separate, but a good rule of thumb is that if you cannot remember the last time you used it, you probably do not need it. Just begin going through your possessions and decide as you go. If you are in doubt about an item, ask yourself these questions: do I really need it? Will I really use this? Is there someone else who could use this item more than me?

Giving to charity is a wonderful way to simplify your home, learn to see the needs of others and meet them all at the same time. Why not take a quick walk through your house and consider giving some of your things to charity today.