Our hearts which grew a little larger, as we counted our blessings, reflected on what we were thankful for and took time out to give to those we love and share what we have with those less fortunate, seem to turn back to ourselves and our own ambitions this time of year.
I was reminded of this when I recently sat down with Pamela Atkinson during a recording of the CEO Success Stories Podcast. Pamela serves on the state’s Homeless Coordinating Committee, Envision Utah and the Refugee Services Advisory board, as well as others. Besides positions and titles, what Pamela really does is quite simple and impactful — she serves those in need. During our conversation she highlighted the need to give back especially when the ‘season of giving’ is over.
“It’s very depressing for homeless people, very depressing for low-income people and maybe refugees who come from a hot country…people tend to give in November and December. I’ve really searched the scriptures and nowhere have I ever found that it says ‘thou shall only give in November and December,’” said Atkinson. “One of the things I learned a long time ago, needs do not stop just because people are giving in November and December. The needs are still there on January 1st and throughout the year.”
It was a message that hit home for me, and something that I reflected on, during the recent MLK Day holiday. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the clergyman turned civil rights activist, whose courage, leadership and global vision of justice helped advance our country’s public consciousness towards equality, often shared his thoughts about giving back. One of his most well-known quotes is: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”
It’s true, charitable giving is something Utahns are especially good at. One report by WalletHub found Utah to be the most charitable state in the nation—ranking number one in the highest volunteer rate, highest percentage of people who donate time, and tied for first for highest percentage of donated income and highest percent of population who donate money.
So while giving of ourselves is nothing new to Utahns, even the most charitable among us may need a reminder that those in need are still in need when the giving season comes to a close.