‘Tis the season for giving

With the December holidays around the corner, the retailers have already hauled out their stash of Boney M CDs and decorated their shops with green trees, fake white snow and red Father Christmases. The big switch-on of the Christmas lights in Adderley Street is happening this Sunday, and it sounds like an all-day street party is being planned for the centre of town.

Surrounded by all the sales-hype, end-of-year promotions and special offers that are designed exclusively to empty our wallets in a frenzy of gift-buying, and in the flurry of office parties, end-of-year functions and family get-togethers, it is easy to get caught up and to lose sight of the big picture.

In our country, the official unemployment rate according to Stats SA is 23.2% in the 3rd Quarter of 2008 (Official report).

I don’t think that the ‘official statistics’ tell the whole story, though, judging from the number of homeless people, street children and beggars on our streets, and the proliferation of self-appointed parking attendants and unofficial car-washers, as well as people hawking bad-quality consumables (plastic bags, toys, sunglasses, car chargers, clothes hangers….) at traffic lights.

There are such stark differences between those who literally have nothing more than the clothes on their back and those who have more clothes in their cupboards than they’ll ever wear. It’s a desperate situation, that becomes particularly hard to bear at a time of year when we are tempted by all manner of persuasive advertising to splurge on things we don’t really need, or to max out our credit cards buying gifts for our family, friends and co-workers – ironically, much of it items they don’t really want or need, and things that’ll probably end up being ‘passed forward’ to others.

So this year, why don’t we all try a different approach?

How about we give some money, some of our time, and some of those items we really don’t use or want any more, to a good cause?

There are so many organisations out there who are desperate to spread around a little Christmas cheer among the homeless, the destitute, the unemployed and the terminally ill:

Not to forget all those amazing organisations that look after animals:

Please spread the word.

And if you don’t get any Christmas presents from me this year, please don’t be mad at me. 🙂

2 thoughts on “‘Tis the season for giving

  1. Official unemployment figures, in any country, only include those who are actively looking for work. Not those who’ve given up looking because they know it’s hopeless, or who are in need of a job but maybe don’t know where or how to even start looking for something suitable. Which makes sense in that you obviously don’t want to include, say, stay-at-home mothers (or fathers) in the ranks of the “unemployed”; but in SA and other struggling economies, it understates the situation rather horribly.

  2. PS Those unofficial parking attendants, traffic-light entrepreneurs etc don’t count as unemployed either. They are economically active, even if they don’t have a job that pays a living wage.

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