The Irreverent Professor

Unvarnished realities about life, teaching, learning, and change in this wild, wild world

Archive for the category “Giving”

‘Tis the Season…for Giving. Or Not.

The holiday season is just around the corner.  Me, I celebrate Christmas, but I include in the holiday season Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, Festivus and whatever other holidays people celebrate around this time of year (don’t crucify me for not knowing all the pertinent holidays!  I consulted the Interfaith Calendar but am sure it is far from complete.)

Our Christmas treet

Our Christmas tree

Which makes me think about the concept of giving.  To whom do you give?  How much?  When?  I’m at that fortunate point in my life that I don’t really need anything.  [I mean, other than See’s Candies and Garrett popcorn.  Duh.]

Anyway, I was at my brother’s house for Thanksgiving (which could have been the topic of a separate post on a blog called something like Dysfunctional Family Follies).  The topic of Christmas came up and my sister-in-law and I both sincerely expressed the desire to (a) not receive any more “stuff” and (b) not have to feel compelled to go buy other people stuff.  Sometimes it just isn’t fun, you know?  You check people off your list and buy them “stuff” that they don’t need…a la George Carlin (a censored version of his comedy routine video about “Stuff”)–just to get it over with.

This is just the stuff we have to decorate for Christmas season.  We put stuff in, on, and under this stuff.  What a holiday!

This is just the stuff we have to decorate for Christmas season. We put stuff in, on, and under this stuff. What a holiday!

So what about at work?  A friend and colleague mentioned she is “required” to participate in the Secret Santa (or Dirty Santa or whatever) activity at work.  And she’s Jewish.  It’s not a big deal to her, but it could be to someone.  It may not be the $10-15 price tag.  Maybe it’s the time to find such a gift.  Or the nature of the holiday.  Or maybe someone just doesn’t like their co-workers!  [Note to co-workers: This is a general statement, not directed at you.  I am looking forward to participating!  And appreciate that it was made “optional.”]  And some people are “invited” (which everyone knows means “expected”) to contribute to Christmas presents or gift cards for admins, housekeepers, even bosses!  Which sticks in my craw a bit.

So I finally stumbled on something work-related that I feel comfortable contributing to.  Unbeknownst to me, there’s a program called REACH Alabama at the university which asks people to support those college students (and future college students) who have no one – foster kids, orphans, etc.  From contributing gift cards to help them with expenses to hosting them in your home for a meal or a holiday, there are many ways to give to this group of kids.  Now this I can get behind.  This makes sense.  I know a young woman in college who has no family.  Not even an estranged freaky dysfunctional aunt and uncle (though I have some I’d be happy to share).  I can’t imagine not having anyone who will call you on Christmas or (fill in your holiday here).

Sure, the goal of the program is to get foster kids into college and degreed.  The statistics on how many attend college and how many finish are staggering.  But I’m grateful to have found it.  It will make me feel good to do something for these kids.  I will consciously not give to the “invitations to give” that I can’t philosophically support.  But I will contribute to REACH Alabama.  This is what Christmas is about.  I’ve been so blessed and so fortunate in my life.  It’s time to pay it forward.

Carpe holiday spirit!

My Holiday Request To the Hospitality Industry

Have you been wondering what I want for Christmas?  Well, sure you have.  Here it is.  I want every single person in the hospitality industry to “pay it forward” to the next generation of hospitality professionals.  Seriously.

It is so sad to see a promising student whose parents can’t (or won’t) pay their tuition.  Or who can’t afford the books (which at $80-150 per class are a ridiculous expense!).  I admire the students who work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet.  And frankly, I think they should all work and get experience in the hospitality industry while they are in school but there IS a law of diminishing returns that kicks in somewhere around the third job.

So consider contributing to a school in your town–or anywhere–that offers a hospitality program.  And if you represent a company, consider having the company make a significant gift.  If you are an individual, consider offering enough for a book scholarship, or enough to pay for one class, or anything you can that can be put together with other contributions to help a student.

And if you aren’t in a place where you can contribute financially, consider contributing in another way.  Be a mentor.  Be a guest speaker (even by Skype!).  Allow students to volunteer at your conference/meeting/event/hotel/etc.  As a professor, I can tell a student something 13 times and it doesn’t sink in.  But YOU?  You as an industry professional can say it once or better yet, show them, and it becomes golden wisdom.

So won’t you please consider (here-at-year-end-when-there-are-tax-benefits) making a contribution to students who want to be like you when you grow up?  Here’s a sample “Giving” page (random, of course).  All university websites have them.  And you can specify where your gift should go.

Carpe paying it forward.

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