To My Masonic Brethren: A Christmas Challenge

Many Americans feel that the true meaning of Christmas has been lost--I'm one of those.  The mall parking lot is full, while the church parking lot is empty.  We spend a lot of time this time of year trying to think up thoughtful gifts for our friends and family as we rush around at the last minute trying to buy gifts. We all love opening presents on Christmas morning, but more often than not, we get things we like, but don't really need. Isn't there a better way to spend that money?

Why not do something different this year? We're two weeks from Christmas. Most of those gifts aren't bought yet. Instead of asking for that sweater, or the socks, or a nice tie, or that fancy coffee maker or Nook I talked about a couple weeks ago, why don't you let your family know you'd rather they take that money they usually spend on you, and donate it to a worthy cause.  If you have a favorite charity, let them know what it is, and tell them to write a check to that charity. There are a lot of people in need right now. I've listed a few suggestions below, but there are thousands of worthy causes in need of support--especially at this time of year.  If you're one of those lucky individuals that has everything they need, why not give your gift to those who really need it.  Isn't that what the spirit of Christmas is really about?

Luke's Wings  is an organization dedicated to the support of service members who have been wounded in battle. Recognizing the immediate need for families to be with their loved ones at such a difficult time, Luke’s Wings provides families with the means to visit during the service member’s hospitalization and rehabilitation. By purchasing travel agency services and travel tickets for loved ones, Luke’s Wings provides an immediate and invaluable service to the families of our men and women at arms while also helping to encourage and motivate the service member’s recovery. I would add they are trying to raise $100K before Christmas that so that no wounded warrior spends Christmas alone.  Check out the website for more information.

Shriner's Hospitals  The generosity of donors is what enables Shriners Hospitals for Children® to deliver life-changing medical care without placing burden on the families of our patients. There are many ways to give, from participating in one of our many fundraising events throughout the year, to creating a plan for giving. No matter how large or small, every gift to Shriners Hospitals for Children makes a difference in the life of a child.

Wounded Warriors Project  began when several veterans and friends, moved by stories of the first wounded service members returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq, took action to help others in need. What started as a program to provide comfort items to wounded service members has grown into a complete rehabilitative effort to assist warriors as they recover and transition back to civilian life.  Tens of thousands of Wounded Warriors and caregivers receive support each year through WWP programs designed to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement.

For animal lovers.  The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee was founded in 1995, is the nation's largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered African and Asian elephants. The Sanctuary operates on 2,700 acres in Hohenwald, Tennessee — 85 miles southwest of Nashville.  The Elephant Sanctuary exists for two reasons:  1.)  To provide a haven for old, sick or needy elephants in a setting of green pastures, dense forests, spring-fed ponds and heated barns for cold winter nights. 2.) To provide education about the crisis facing these social, sensitive, passionately intense, playful, complex, exceedingly intelligent and endangered creatures.  A friend and brother Master Mason brought this worthy charity to my attention.  They do good work--check out their website.

St. Judes Children's Research Hospital was founded by a Master Mason!  When entertainer Danny Thomas opened the doors to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 1962, he was not just changing the lives of those children who would walk through its doors. He was changing lives across the world. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering research and treatment of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Ranked one of the best pediatric cancer hospitals in the country, St. Jude is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.

Ask yourself a question--what did you get for Christmas last year.  Do you remember everything? I'd be willing to bet you don't. I hope you consider supporting one of these worthy causes, or one in your own community, and ask your friends and family to give to them rather than to you.

Merry Christmas!


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