$20 billion is the amount of money needed to eradicate homelessness. $20 billion is also the amount of money Americans spend each year just on new Christmas decorations.
The means for donations are obviously present within our society, but are not alway applied in a charitable way. For so many, Christmas time is deemed the “season of giving.” However, this theme of giving needs to be present year-round, and not just in the holiday season.
Thirty-four percent of donations to charitable organizations take place between October and December, with half of that being donated in December alone. Approximately 43 percent of people give more during the holiday season than the rest of the year, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. Whether it is incentivized by tax breaks or a heightened holiday spirit, there is a concentration of giving during the last months of the year.
Of course, giving during the holidays provides many benefits. Calvin Streeter, professor in the School of Social Work, wrote in an email that the season of giving promotes awareness that can have year-round impacts.
“Such programs are best if they can be used as the basis for establishing as [sic] long-term relationship with potential new donors and help them understand that such support is a year round need for the organization, not just something for the holidays,” Streeter said in an email.
On Dec. 1, corporations and social media users will encourage a global day of charity through a social media blitz in conjunction with #GivingTuesday and private donations. Richard Troxell, president and CEO of local Austin charity House the Homeless, said the nonprofit will participate in the #GivingTuesday campaign.
Troxell pointed out that the issue of homelessness is highlighted here in Austin. 5,800 people access homeless services annually in Austin, but only 700 emergency shelter beds throughout the city. This becomes a heightened issue during winter when those who have been living on the street are faced with extreme temperatures and a lack of shelter.
These issues faced by the homeless can be abated, if not solved, through a community effort. Despite the efforts of many in encouraging donations, there are still people who fail to do so. This is possibly a result of the capitalistic idea that hard-earned money is a reward. People may feel more justified in spending the money on Christmas decorations, which in turn may reflect status to others, rather than helping those in need. It is important to donate either time or money to help the charities because many of those that are less fortunate have been the victim of arbitrariness of fate, and deserve the right to live
Campaigns like these undeniably carry benefits, but charitable giving is a socially beneficial behavior that should not be seasonal. Issues such as homelessness are not unique to the holiday season, but extravagant spending is. As proven by the $20 billion Americans spend on Christmas decorations each year, the means to help are available. People should choose to maximize this potential outside of the holiday season. It is important to stay connected to the world we live in and the struggles others face.
Vernon is a PACE freshman from Houston. Follow her on Twitter @_emilyvernon_.