Altruism through Joy of Giving party and giving trees

The free Joy of Giving party teaches children to give back in a fun-filled atmosphere. (Photo provided — Diane Chase)

We survive Black Friday, attend Small Business Saturday, and search through the Cyber Monday deals. We are consumers and can get caught up in all the “must haves” that keep showing up in our mailbox and through Internet ads, and TV commercials. To remind ourselves that this holiday season is more than just getting, we look forward to opportunities to be more thoughtful, whether by word or by action.

It is challenging to find ways to nip the holiday focus on commercialism. Fortunately, my children have attended the annual Joy of Giving Party since they were young. My daughter went from participating to wanting to volunteer and now helps to create the same magical atmosphere for other children.

There is no fee for the Joy of Giving party, but children are asked to bring an unwrapped gently used or new toy* to donate that has meaning to them. Parents can encourage children to “shop” their bedrooms for toys that can be given a new life or start a conversation about why a certain toy will make another child happy. The hope is that by practicing an unselfish act as a child will encourage the same behavior in an adult.

The 23nd annual Joy of Giving Party is taking place on Dec. 8 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Paul Smith’s College Forestry Club Cabin. This free event is packed full of wonderful activities including horse-drawn sleigh rides; healthy snacks, crafts, storytelling, face-painting and music. There are even some of Santa’s elves to join in the fun. The real attraction is the ability for each child to give something that has meaning to him or her and have the opportunity to think about other people.

Joy of Giving ADK is just one opportunity to give children the chance to be altruistic. There are also food pantry boxes at most grocery stores as well as “giving trees” at local shops. This is the last weekend to participate in the Lake Placid Palace Theatre’s Elfing Tree. Located in the theater’s lobby, the Elfing Tree is filled with children’s wishes. Take a wish-filled tag, fulfill the wish, and bring the wrapped package back to the theatre with the tag on the package. If that doesn’t work out stop by Kinney Drugs in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Each location hosts Senior Santa Trees with Christmas tags to benefit the needs of our elderly population. Even our four-legged friends aren’t forgotten during the holidays. The Lake Placid Animal Hospital will have their Giving Tree available with specific treats designated for shelter animals ready for adoption. Sometimes it is possible to make a small wish come true.

Paul Smith’s College is located in the hamlet of Paul Smiths at the junction of state Routes 86 and 30. Drive through the college’s main entrance and follow the signs marked “JOY” to get to the Forestry Cabin. Enjoy!

**If a new gift is purchased, please keep the cost under $10.

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Time guidebook series.

For more family-friendly activities go to AdirondackFamilyTime.­com.