Friday, December 24, 2010

A giving spirit IS a healthy spirit

"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the creative light of altruism or the darkness of selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s persistent and most urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ " -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dressed as Santa, Orlando Ramos gives gifts
to the children in his old neighborhood.
Can helping others really help us? According to research by mental health experts, the answer is a profound yes. Giving back to your community, or paying it forward to help others, even in small ways is fulfilling for yourself and for the recipient. We like ourselves just a little bit more knowing we are helping someone in need. Even small deeds matter, whether shoveling a neighbor's walk or cleaning the snow off some one's car, taking out an elderly person's trash, or even saying 'hi' to a stranger can make a difference to brighten the day. This makes us feel connected as a community. This reminds us to be grateful for what we have ourselves, and for others around us. A giver's spirit is healthy, not just emotionally, but also physically. We feel better when our hearts and minds are at peace, when we know we've helped someone else.

Springfield resident Orlando Ramos looks forward to the times when he can give back to his community. In particular, every year at Christmas, Ramos buys toys out of his own pocket to give to the kids in the neighborhood where he grew up on Manilla Avenue in Springfield. Located in the Pine Point section, the neighborhood where Ramos was raised is made up 20 duplexes, largely of low-income housing, and managed by the Springfield Housing Authority, he said.
"I moved out eight years ago in 2002, but I still take good care of the people that live there, especially the kids," Ramos, a former City Council candidate, said. Ramos has dressed as Santa for the past five years, bringing presents door-to-door to the kids on Manilla Avenue. He usually spends between $200 to $300. This year, 46 children ages 12 and under will receive gifts on Christmas day. 
"I do this because I care about these children," Ramos said. "I believe in the words in the Bible, Acts 20:35 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' I feel that God has blessed me in many ways, and I like to take advantage of every opportunity to give back. It's a blessing to be able to put a smile on the children's faces on Christmas. That for me is reward in itself."

There are transformative power's in giving. Let's all commit to having a giver's spirit this holiday season and in 2011.

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