Many of us get caught up in the holidays effortlessly.  Whether it is the Christmas music playing as we shop in the stores, or the sudden desire to wear red and green, it becomes easy to forget what the end of the year holiday season is really about – giving back to others.  When you step back and say, “How can I make a difference this holiday season?” the opportunities are endless.  There are just so many people in need, in our own communities, that focusing your efforts to make a real change can be difficult.

The Batavia office tackled the task head-on and has made a pledge this holiday season to give, give, and give.  We started out this month by gathering presents for Angel Action of Wyoming County.  The employees shopped to their hearts content and will surely put smiles on the faces of the family that will receive those presents.  We quickly followed up with three Jeans Days to collect over $500 to benefit Angel Action, the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign and the Holiday Fund.

The largest piece of our year-end giving streak is through is our annual United Way Campaign.  From the time I started at Freed Maxick seven years ago, I made a pledge to myself that I would increase my contribution every year and I have.  Well, needless to say, this year, twenty-one of employees, reached into their pockets, and pledged close to $4,000.  What is most amazing to me is that the majority of those that gave, gave more than the prior year.  In tough economic times, the need that United Way organizations face is greater than ever and it never ceases to amaze me how our employees connect with that very sentiment and find a way to give more than they ever have before.

There is still time before the close of the holiday season, so if you haven’t taken a moment to pause and remember what the season is about, there is still time.  Whether you put a few dollars in the red kettle on your way out of the store or you drop an unwrapped toy in a bin at your bank or favorite coffee place one thing is for sure – you will go away with the warm feeling that you have done something to help someone who is need, and at the end of the day, that truly is what the holidays are about.

P.S. the pic is of my son Harry when he and I rang the bell for Rotary last year.  This year my whole family is ringing the bell on Saturday at TOPS in Batavia and I cannot wait!