A Heart For Giving


As a mother, I believe one of the most valuable gifts that I can give to my children is a heart for giving. In a society that places immense value on what a person can put into his own pocket, it seems necessary to set an example of what it looks like to give generously to others. One of my most treasured personal goals is to leave this world having raised human beings who cultivate kindness and boldly engage in their community and their planet with generosity and service.

Alexa Benson-Valavanis, president and CEO of North Valley Community Foundation (NVCF), shares my passion for the giving spirit and says that being involved in charity teaches children lessons about humanity that could have a huge impact on our future. 

“We are kind. We are good. We love one another in spite of our vast differences. We are empathetic and generous. This is what every child on this planet should know,” says Benson-Valavanis. “If every child was reminded of their basic goodness and that of others, I believe the results would be overwhelmingly positive.”

The NVCF is an organization that offers help to those who want to make a difference in their communities by providing guidance, resources and opportunities for donating whatever they have to give. One of the organization’s current projects is the Chico Children’s Endowment Fund, which has a goal of raising $10 million over the next several years. According to http://www.nvcf.org, the fund will provide a continual source of funding for organizations in the Chico community that address the needs of local children who are “growing up in physically and emotionally diverse conditions.”

    “People all have different gifts to offer this world,” says Benson-Valavanis. “One of the things I’m most proud of is the way NVCF supports thousands of people who want to make a meaningful impact with their money and time. But we also come alongside the big dreamers and visionaries who wish to create new programs and projects.” 

A myth about giving is that the biggest check makes the biggest difference. In fact, a large group of passionate donors can have the same impact as a single, wealthy benefactor. Every family, no matter its budget, can leave its mark on the community by giving whatever it can with a generous heart.

“During the early days of one of our Annie B’s Community Drives, a man walked in with a contribution for each participating charity,” says Benson-Valavanis. “He told me he didn’t have much money, but he loved the idea. He gave $1 to each participant. He gave what he could. And, that’s all it takes. It just takes each of us doing what we can. If we all gave the equivalent of that man’s one dollar, I am convinced we would have enough to take care of each other the short time we get to be here.” 

Giving becomes increasingly important during the holidays. Many families are searching for ways to take the focus off of “getting” and onto giving back. One excellent opportunity to do just that is to participate in the Shasta Regional Community Foundation’s North State Giving Tuesday event. This is a local online version of the national “Giving Tuesday” event that follows “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” established to take the focus off of consumer goods and place it back on goodwill and aiding those who are bettering their communities. The tag line “give where you live,” gets right to the crux of the event.

From 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29, any donor will have the opportunity to give to one or more of the 95 participating nonprofit organizations in Shasta and Siskiyou counties. Donating is simple and secure at http://www.northstategives.org, the website hosted by the Community Foundation with generous support from Redding Bank of Commerce and United Way of Northern California. Donors can search by organization name or category of service, or can shop through the list of organizations on the home page to find those that inspire them to give.

According to Audra (Gibson) Beylik, development and communications officer for Shasta Regional Community Foundation, over $80,000 of incentives from their Knodel Family Endowment Fund will boost each donation made online during the event. Each of the nearly 100 participating nonprofit organizations will receive a percentage of the incentive money based on the amount they raise from individual donors at their link on the North State Gives website on the day of the event.

In addition, generous donations from business sponsors are handed out each hour of the event by random draw. Beylik calls this “exponential giving,” and says it has a tremendous impact on the good work that local nonprofit organizations can do to benefit our communities.

“It feels really good to be a part of a way nonprofits can get a leg up,” says Beylik. “They can use this money in whatever way they need to.”

If your family would like to take giving a step further this year, volunteering time is another way to engage children with their community and show them the power of giving back. This is a great way to get older children and teens out of their heads, out from in front of the television and out into the world. Some volunteer opportunities are even appropriate for small children – my 3-year-old can operate a litter picker! 

United Way of Northern California sponsors a website that puts this idea to work by connecting volunteers to current local needs; http://www.volunteernorcal.org makes it easy for individuals or groups to find places to lend a hand. Parents can visit this site to easily find information about child-friendly volunteer opportunities. For more volunteer opportunities for teens, check out the Youth and Teen section in North State Parent’s Family Resource Guide edition in print or online at http://www.northstateparent.com/ familyresources.

Whether our family chooses to give financially or through volunteerism this year, I know that the tradition of giving during the holidays will have an enduring impact on my family and on those who will be affected by our choice to get a bit less and give a bit more. In the end, it is my hope that my children will get something back from their experience that is more impactful than a store-bought gift could ever be.

“Humans are good. We are. We just are!” says Benson-Valavanis. “My greatest hope is that every child on this planet learns firsthand how good they are, and how much good they can do while they are here.” 


Participate from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Tues., Nov. 29th at http://www.northstategives.org.
All donors will receive a receipt for tax purposes. You can follow Shasta Regional Community Foundation on social media to see local impact of this event.


Elizabeth Tyler
About Elizabeth Tyler

Elizabeth Tyler is a mommy, a step-mom and a wife. She lives in Northeast Shasta County nestled between the snow-capped mountains of Northern California. She is also a blogger, public relations professional and community activist.

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