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Give more than gifts during holiday Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Dec 11 2010 12:00 PM

People often say that it is better to give than receive. While not everyone has this opinion, I feel more significant when I give, especially during Christmas.

This holiday season I had the opportunity, as an employee with The Star-News, to shop for more than a dozen families for a Kiwanis event we are sponsoring Dec. 11.

The Kiwanis Club of San Diego has been around since 1920 and is an organization that provides service projects that respond to community needs, which focuses on young children and developing a future generation of leaders.

Each year, the principals of several schools in the Chula Vista Elementary School District choose students from low-income families to gift them with shoes, clothes and toys.

This year, the gifts are for more than 35 children and teenagers, ranging in age from 6 months to 19 years old.

As I pushed my cart through jam-packed aisles scanning the store for potential gifts at Target last Friday, the experience was nostalgic.

In my 29 years, I've found through observation that every human being inherently possesses two universal needs: the desire to be loved and feel significant. When I was in high school, I began to develop a love for serving others and in that, was able to experience the joy of giving.

My first trip that focused on these needs was one I took to Haiti when I was 17 with a small group from my church. That one-week experience will stay with me for the rest of my life. I was able to see a different culture, make friends from a foreign country and create irreplaceable memories. I left a small piece of my heart in Haiti with the people in a small town called Bois Brule.

Since then I've traveled to Africa twice, to a small southeastern country called Malawi. There I donated money, my time and talent to young adults interested in soccer. I shared my passion for the sport and through spending time with Malawians in their culture, I gained a perspective of what life is like with less and it humbled me.

The wonderful thing that I've learned about giving is that it does not have to be based on the material aspect of it. It can manifest itself in many ways. As we're still recovering from a long economic recession, I recognize that many people do not have the financial means to give. Good news! You can let your time, talents and resources do the walking and talking.

For many people, time is precious. Everything revolves around time. I can appreciate this aspect the most, since as a reporter the clock is a constant looming presence I cannot get away from.

What this looks like: lending an ear to someone who needs it, reading a book to a child, helping out at a shelter.

But some of you don't have much time to give. In this case, perhaps you can incorporate giving into a part of your daily routine, where you can exercise your skills and abilities, or talents. Maybe you're a teacher, athlete, writer, consultant, student or just consider yourself a leader. Ask yourself how you can use your talents to help someone else.

What this looks like: mentoring, coaching, giving advice, and sharing notes.

The desires to feel significant and be loved are not easy to fulfill, yet ultimately every relationship we build caters to these concepts. Satisfying these desires takes work and patience, motivation and sincerity, interest and compassion, boldness and vulnerability.

I find that while we should be driven by passion, we are often motivated by selfishness. This holiday season, I want to challenge you to give yourself away.

Think about something or someone that you can devote your time and energy to that will give your life and theirs, new meaning. What would you do if you weren't afraid to do it? The sky's the limit.

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