We can give without giving in to consumerism

Whether you refer to it as Christmas or Xmas, the holiday season is approaching. It is the season of giving.

Whether you take your coffee in a red nondescript holiday Starbucks cup or not, or refer to it as Christmas or Xmas, the holiday season is approaching.

It is the season of giving, something that will be echoed in advertisements across numerous platforms until the end of the year.

The malls will be decked with decorations, tinsel and nutcracker statues, with the sound of Jingle Bells playing, if they aren’t already. Those who celebrate Christmas will begin braving the packed parking lots and lineups to do their gift shopping.

Displays at churches will see the Three Wise Men bearing gifts for an infant Jesus.

The emphasis on gift giving has commercialized the holiday season, some say. Boxing Day, which occurs the day after Dec. 25, the recently concocted Black Friday on Nov. 27, or even the lesser-known Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday, provide examples of that commercialization, as sales and saving money at sales, are trumpeted.

If you are against spending money to feed the seemingly insatiable consumer beast, giving your time or money to one of numerous charitable causes in the Nanaimo area might be something to consider.

There are a number of holiday season fundraisers and Nanaimo is an area with a reputation for high child poverty.

In a 2015 report from the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation, Dr. Paul Hasselback, Island Health medical health officer, states one in five children in the region are affected by poverty.

The Nanaimo Foundation’s recently released 2015 Vital Signs report, citing numbers from 2013, said that there are 14,310 residents living in low-income households.

The latest Vital Signs also reported that there were 61,500 visits to the Nanaimo area food bank in 2014, a 7.5 per cent rise from 2013.

Giving to help the needy at this time of year, or any time of year for that matter, is beneficial and there are many worthy causes to donate to around the Harbour City. Some of them include:

The Nanaimo News Bulletin’s Coins for Kids campaign runs until the week of Dec. 15. Donation cans are available at certain locations year-round – ready to take change or dollars if people are so inclined. It benefits the Great Nanaimo Toy Drive and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island.

As for the aforementioned toy drive, the fundraiser begins today (Nov. 17), taking toy donations for Nanaimo’s needy children and complementing that, Hamperville, Nanaimo’s Christmas Hamper program, also begins today, taking food donations to provide for the needy for the holiday season.

Salvation Army kettles will grace storefronts beginning Monday (Nov. 23), ready to see change deposited, with that festive jingle sound, and Volunteer Nanaimo’s Christmas Angels program is running until Dec. 24.

The holiday season has evolved into a consumer-driven mess, but spending money or time to help those in need is a way to mitigate that.

All the promotion of spending at this time of year can grind on and irritate people, but helping to brighten the day of a child or adult in need, at any time of year, isn’t bad at all.