Affordable Christmas Store: Why?

Posted on by Bonnie Rodriguez

We wanted to share this letter from Stacy Morales, our City Life KIX Director, about thoughtful giving at Christmas time.  We love the tradition of giving around the holidays.  We pray you will be thoughtful and wise and blessed as you give.


As you know, KIX is not about hand-outs; we are about providing a hand up and empowering people to be successful in the long term.  All the children and youth we serve deserve to receive a gift on Christmas morning, but their parents also deserve to feel the pride and joy of seeing their children’s faces light up as they tear into gifts that they have selected and purchased for them. 

We have found that often kindhearted, generous giving is at first received with gratitude by the recipients and after a period of time, subsequent gifts become an expectation until such time as the gifts become an entitlement.  Some of you have seen this through comments of dissatisfaction from recipients or demands for more or better alternatives to that which has been provided.  This phenomenon has been documented as follows:

Give once and you elicit appreciation
Give twice and you create anticipation
Give three times and you create expectation
Give four times and it becomes entitlement 
Give five times and you establish dependency

I would like to share with you an excerpt from a story told by Robert Lupton, from FCS Ministries in Atlanta, who has been engaged in urban ministries activism for more 40 years and has authored several books on related subjects.  For many of those years he engaged in his ministry while commuting from the suburbs.  He also coordinated many adopt-a-family -type Christmas giving programs where the names, ages, and sizes of urban children were matched up with suburban families who generously wanted to provide gifts (does this sound familiar?).  It was not until he made the move to the city and observed the process from a recipient families’ living room as a neighbor that he truly understood something that had not occurred to him before. 

I celebrated the season as a newcomer to this urban neighborhood, sipping coffee with one of my new neighbors.  Bare floors were swept clean, and clutter was picked up.  The smell of Pine-sol hung in the air.  Front windows reflected light from two plastic candles.  A small artificial tree on a corner table blinked with a single strand of colored lights.  The children, antsy with anticipation, paced from window to window, waiting for Santa’s helpers to arrive. 

When a knock finally came on their front door, their mom greeted the visitors – a well -dressed family with young children – and invited them to step inside.  A nervous smile concealed her embarrassment as she graciously accepted armfuls of neatly wrapped gifts.  In the commotion, no one noticed that the children’s father had quietly slipped out of the room – no one but their mom.

Not until the guests were gone and the children had torn through the wrappings to the treasures inside did one of the little ones ask where their father was.  No one questioned the mother’s response that he had to go to the store.  But after organizing these kinds of charity events for years, I was witnessing a side I had never noticed before:  how a father is emasculated in his own home in front of his wife and children for not being able to provide presents for his family, how a wife is forced to shield her children from their father’s embarrassment, how children get the message that the “good stuff” comes from rich people and it is free.  … Even the most kindhearted, rightly motivated giving- as innocent as giving Christmas toys to needy children – can exact an unintended toll on a parent’s dignity.   

This year we will continue our tradition, following the model of several other organizations that share our philosophy and mission and have successfully provided an alternative for Christmas giving for many years.    Therefore, we will be bring back our Affordable Christmas Store and stock the store with donations from generous donors in our communities.   The toys will be available to parents at very discounted prices (everyone loves a sale!) since it is simply about allowing our parents to feel they earned that gift and can select and give their child a special gift with dignity.


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