Merry Christmas, Goodwill

UPDATE 12-26-09: Thanks to everyone who took the time to post a comment about giving. There were so many powerful and personal moments recorded that it made such wonderful reading.  If I’m ever feeling glum, I’ll know where to go to cheer myself up – this post and your comments.  So thanks again.  I didn’t hit my goal of 1,000 comments – but more than 180 is a lot.  As a result, I’m going to donate the full $1,000 to Goodwill. They deserve it!  Happy Holidays and may 2010 be a year we all learn a lesson about the value of giving…

“Here’s the deal: Every comment to this post means a dollar will be donated to Goodwill.”

I have a confession to make.

I don’t give enough to charity.  I always blame my training as a journalist.  Journalists try to be impartial – and unemotional.  That’s a difficult task at times, but when you’re doing a story on the homicide of a teenage boy or researching a series on homelessness among children – you can’t afford to get emotionally involved.  You need to be professional and steel yourself into the role of chronicler.

This mindset paid dividends while I was a journalist.  I didn’t join organizations.  I didn’t volunteer my time.  I didn’t often give money to charity.  Awful isn’t it?  But I got away with it because I could tell myself that I was giving back through my job.  That by exposing corruption or promoting the good works of a charity or writing about a child struggling with a disease – I was giving back to the community in a different way.

Unfortunately, that journalist mindset has stuck with me – even though I have transitioned into the professional world.  I’m better now – but that reluctance often creeps up on me.  Because giving money to charities and volunteering your time is an endorsement.  And journalists aren’t supposed to endorse things.

So I need to keep reminding myself: “Moron, you haven’t been a journalist in awhile.  It’s okay to give.”

And that’s what I’m going to do right now: give.  I’m going to donate up to $1,000 to Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries and I’d like your help doing it.

First, I want to talk briefly about Goodwill.  My friend James Harder works there as the director of corporate communications.  He does great work.  Wonderful work.  Goodwill helps the people who need the most help – but they do it in a way that helps people become self-sufficient.  They do it by building self-esteem and pride.  Their mission statement says it all:

“Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries’ mission is to provide exemplary job training and related services to help individuals with disabilities and other barriers to self-sufficiency to achieve independence and dignity through work.  Not charity, but a chance.

Wow.  What’s not to like about a mission like that?

Here’s how you can help.  And it is very simple.  I’m going to donate $1 for every comment this post gets.  To get you started you can answer the following question:

“What is the greatest gift that you have ever given anyone?”

But any legitimate comment will do.  I’m doing this because I believe in Goodwill and I believe in the enormous power of social networking and the social web.  So please spread the word.  Get your friends and family to comment.  I know James and his team at Goodwill are going to roll out the votes – so I hope you do, too!


  • Only one comment per person (you can comment more than once, of course, but only your first one counts as a donation)
  • The deadline is Christmas Day at midnight ET (December 25, 2009)
  • No one word comments, symbols or numbers.  Comments must be comprehensible
  • Please consider making a donation yourself.  It’s easy to do online.

Thank you in advance.  And have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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182 Responses to “Merry Christmas, Goodwill”

  1. Greatest gift I’ve ever given:

    Drove to Vermont with three friends to show up unexpectedly to support a friend whose father lost his battle to cancer. A gift of time and emotional support (even simple proximity)is priceless.

  2. It is also the gift that keeps giving. Thanks, Scott!

  3. First – Thanks George!

    Second – Your donations help Goodwill provide job readiness programs and related services to individuals considered the hardest to employ. So thanks. It’s a wonderful gift this time of year.

    Third – I hate to make this a material thing, but greatest gift was probably a necklace I gave my wife several years ago. She always wears it and I think it means a lot to her.

  4. This is great. Thank you. I think the greatest gift given is love, of course.

  5. It is sad that I can’t think of anything that would fall under “the greatest gift given ever”. however I do commend the goodwill and salvation army for what they do.

  6. This is great George!

    Greatest gift I have ever given? That goes to my dad. It was unintentional (and a little self serving) but, putting myself through college and walking across the stage to get my college diploma. I don’t recall ever seeing someone so proud.

  7. What a great thing to do!

  8. Hi Michele:
    That is an awesome gift. Can you come and talk to my daughters about providing that same gift to me?

  9. What an excellent idea, George!

    I’m not sure what the greatest gift was that I have ever given, but I can tell you that the greatest gift I have ever received was my grandmother’s engagement ring. Now, years after both of my grandparents have passed on, I treasure that ring and the memory of how generous, selfless, and in love my grandparents were.

  10. This is great that you’re working with James and the Goodwill. What a perfect organization to donate to!

    The greatest gift I have ever given someone was to my best friend. She couldn’t afford the cost to take her GRE, so I sent her a check. She was stunned.

  11. Hi George et. al.

    I’m drawing a blank on the greatest gift (from a material point of view). But as a Goodwill staffer, just want to join James in thanking you for thinking of us and for establishing a dialogue about what it means to give.

    One of the most interesting moments here (for me, personally) was listening to what I initially perceived to be a retail executive (based upon her attire and demeanor) stand up to address a group of adult trainees who were graduating from a Goodwill retail program. She was confident, enthusiast, ebullient, and filled with hope. She beamed. I then realized that she was one of the program graduates! She’d received her interview attire, which she wore that day, from Goodwill. That alone might be enough to help someone feel great.

    But Goodwill offered her much more–hope and self-confidence. What could be better things to give someone? This is what gifts to Goodwill help us do every day–giving doesn’t end with the transaction itself, it moves along through channels to people like those trainees who will gain skills, hope, encouragement, and self-confidence. So thank you again for making a difference, especially in a challenging year like this one!

    Happy Holidays!

  12. Thank you for your gift of raising awareness and funds for a worthy organization.

    The greatest gift I gave was also a gift I received. I adopted my cat from the SPCA in Richmond, VA on April 1, 2008. I gave her a home and she has given me countless hours of entertainment and joy!

  13. This is for James Harder. AKA Jimmy Shandwick.

    Time out for one second: Is one of your rules that “comments must be comprehensible”? Do your readers usually write in pig latin? Really? Time in.

    Here’s to James!

  14. George, I seem to have the opposite problem. I can’t walk by the donation collectors at the stores without contributing. Happy Holidays!

  15. To answer your question, and I’m sorry if this is a bit of cheese factor, but I’ll back it up … the greatest gift I’ve ever received isn’t anything tangible, not something you can open up on Christmas morning, not something I can play with or put up on a shelf or hang on a wall. The greatest gift I’ve ever received is exactly what your post had in it … a chance. I.e. the chance to be a successful in America. And Goodwill did exactly that. They gave my parents, my family and me a chance to live the American dream.

    I wasn’t born in America, I in fact stepped foot on US soil in 1980, after being a refugee/boat person from Vietnam. Although we were quite comfortable over there, the trickling proliferation of communism drove our family out, with little more than what we had in our pockets.

    So, we ended up on the east coast, Washington DC area … at the mercy of the US support/immigration and sponsorship program. That meant living with government funded aid, subsidized housing, and the open doors of Goodwill.

    I’ve been on the other side of the receiving end of what Goodwill has to offer, I think what you’re doing is fantastic and every little bit helps!

  16. Wow. Great idea, and a great post. Thank you.

  17. Hmmm…thought provoking read,really.Atleast,it sure has inspired me enough to stop and think about how little i give or do for charity.Heres to a christmas of more giving.

  18. What a beautiful thing to do this Holiday Season.
    Love will save us all…

  19. auniqueperspective December 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    What a generous thing to do. I don’t give enough either. And I’m honestly not certain I know what the best gift I’ve ever give has been but I know that the best received gift I ever gave was a box full of handmade costumes for a nephew who loved to dress up. I found an old trunk at a flea market and filled it with capes and hats and bandanas and sunglasses and chefs hats…etc. He was thrilled.

  20. The greatest gift I’ve ever given anyone.

    Hmm. My charming personality?

    I’m sure you’ll make your goal, George. I’m just too lazy to think of a serious answer right now. Hope you don’t mind!

  21. This is a really nice idea!
    I really can’t think of the best gift I’ve ever given, though. The best gift that I ever got was the chance to spend a few Christmases with my grandfather who passed away when I was young.

    Happy Holidays to you, and Thank You immensely for doing such a great, good thing! =D

  22. I’m really not sure what the greatest gift I’ve ever given one is, but I do know that the spirit in which you are conducting this “comment drive” is extremely noble.

    Goodwill is an outstanding community partner, and a worthy beneficiary.

  23. What a great idea George. In particular any (legal) opportunity to spend your money is an opportunity I can’t pass up. As for greatest gift, there are too many to mention. Sufficed to say, I’m very blessed.

  24. What a great idea–kudos! Goodwill is definitely a worthy cause–with so many people still out of jobs, its service is a crucial one.

    I’m not sure about “greatest” gifts but my personal favorites that I’ve given have been an “advent” package with 25 smaller presents to open throughout December and a set of abstract black and white paintings I made for my friend to hang on his wall.

    Best of luck!

  25. I can relate to trying to break yourself of impartiality, and I think this is a pretty extraordinary way to force yourself out of that mindset.

    It’s really hard to say what the best present I’ve ever given is, though. My brother and I took a long road trip just to take my grandmother out to lunch a year ago, that might be the best present I’ve given in a while.

  26. This is amazing way to celebrate the holiday season!

  27. Fantastic idea! Goodwill does such wonderful things for the communities they serve, and I’m always happy to help support this cause.

    Have a very Merry Christmas and may this new year allow Goodwill to serve even more people in need.

    All the best!

  28. Well done, Sir.

  29. Here’s a bit of trivia for you– Goodwill was actually founded in Boston in 1902. Thank you for highlighting Goodwill’s work in your local community.

    I can’t think of the best gift I gave anyone but I do know the best gift I ever received. For a couple years after college–when I was making little and short on funds– my parents would pay for my cross country flights home during the holidays. Being with family during the holidays was always the best gift!

  30. Congrats on trying something new for a good cause. I hope that in the end no matter how many comments you get, you take the time to make a nice donation.

  31. Hi C.C.:
    Already trying to squeeze me! But thanks for all the comments so far! I appreciate it – and so does Goodwill.

  32. This is wonderful! As a recent college grad, and teacher I’ve struggled with finding affordable gifts for those that I love, but recently I have discovered how precious it is to give the gift of TIME. In the last year both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer and I have never felt so helpless. As I watched them both persevere through chemo, surgeries, and radiation I knew there was nothing I could do to alleviate their pain, but I was able to be present. Time was the greatest gift I was allowed to give. It was also very helpful because I was there to to give my mom affirming looks that said, “yes, grandma was acting crazy again, it’s not your pain meds.” 🙂

    Blessings to you as you continue to discover the gift of charity.

  33. Might as well leave another comment!

  34. Forgiveness is always the hardest and greatest gift..

    Keep up you outreach! Merry Christmas

  35. Goodwill is the best! My favorite nonprofit. Hope you make it to 1k.

  36. I think that the best gift I’ve ever given someone would be the year I organized a corporate donation drive to collect new toys for kids who were in a home for children with social and emotional challenges. It was a great gift to be able to help so many kids, but maybe the gift was really for me in that case.

    But, never fear, I give to Goodwill ALL THE TIME. Once again, that’s the gift I give myself: Helping a great cause while regaining space in my house!

  37. I hope we reach 1,000 comments as well. But every comment means money for Goodwill – so spread the word.

  38. Thanks for doing this. I suppose the greatest gift I’ve ever given was a goat to a friend who had everything. It was actually a sponsorship through Mercy Corps. He loved it!

  39. Wonderful idea! Not sure what the greatest gift I’ve given was, but the best gift received – my sisters!

    Happy Holidays all,

  40. In 2008 took our kids (age 16, 13, 10) out of school for 2 months and lived in Honduras in a group home for abandoned kids. A GREAT gift for our kids! Honduras project was

  41. Gotta love a good cause.

    Great stuff George 🙂

  42. Thanks for doing this!

    The greatest gift that I ever gave anyone was the gift of mentoring. It meant a lot to the student that I mentored for two years, but in so many ways, she was also a gift to me.

  43. Goodwill does great work here in Roanoke VA.

  44. I made my big sister a Raggedy Ann, covered in handwork and with really elaborate, multitoned hair. Instead of the traditional heart sewn inside, I used one of our Mom’s nitro pill bottles and filled it with heart-shaped confetti.

    I’m pretty sure it won’t ever spontaneously explode. >.>

  45. Thank you, Stuart! Hope you are well!

  46. A friend of mine refers to the organization as “Greatwill.” It’s appropriate.

  47. This is really awesome. Kudos, George.

    Greatest gift I have ever given someone?

    I was able to fly a friend home to Columbia to visit her sick mother one year – the joy that she experienced from getting to go, and what her mom felt – that was present enough for me.

  48. Thanks Charlene! Goodwill was incorporated in 1902, but actually founded in Boston’s South End in 1895 at Morgan Memorial Chapel. We are the original Goodwill. There are now more than 180 independent organizations worldwide.

  49. I was not the giver, but the vehicle, that gave life to four beautiful souls. And then I loved them as individuals – unconditionally.

  50. Hi Lifeaftereighty:
    Now that’s the greatest gift of all! Thanks for posting.

  51. Great idea. Volunteering at Household Goods Recycling in Acton for the past couple of years has been it for me. The organization collects donations of household goods (furniture, bedding, kitchenware, appliances) and provides them at no cost to individuals in need. Its a win for the donors, the recipients, and all of the volunteers. Dollars are important, time is precious. (


  52. The best gift I’ve ever given is a charm bracelet to my sister. It was good because I had to really think about what she likes to do as well as what best represents each item.

  53. Greatest gift I have ever given:

    I) Myself – to varying people to varying extents, but most to my parents and girlfriend.
    II) My life, to Ethics (and thus to everyone) to try to create a new, deepened understanding of ethics which will both convince everyone to be good, and show them what that involves.


  54. My family has given throughout the year to Goodwill, Salvation Army and the local Men’s Mission and Battered Women’s and Children’s Shelter. We give clothing, household items, food and personal grooming items to the shelters, even the occasional appliance for those battered women going back out on their own. We also give of our time to listen to those who simply need someone to hear what they have to say, to comfort them when they’re afraid, and to assure them that they’re not alone. I believe that’s the best gift of all. That they’re not alone in this world but have understanding friends who care.

  55. I think Goodwill is a great charity and I try to donate to them every year. Thanks for doing this.

  56. Couple months before my wife had our first son, I threw her a surprise birthday party, complete with a cake that looked exactly like our dog. I wanted her to be the focus of attention just for being her, versus for being a Mom, one last time.

  57. The greatest gift I have ever given was helping my brother get his life back on track when everyone else had turned their backs on him (for good reason). Our mom passed about a year after, and giving him a second chance turned out to be the greatest gift for all of us.

  58. This is great! Thank you! Happy HOLIDAZE!

  59. The greatest gift I have given someone is giving my parents their first granddaughter! They couldn’t be happier!

  60. nice blog. nice info. thanks for sharing.

  61. The best gift I have to give to anyone over the holidays is to not talk to them, and thereby not depress them. The best gift I give every year is keeping my thoughts to myself.

  62. I gave my engagement ring (from my first marriage) to a friend and her boyfriend who came here from another country and were working very hard to make a living and a life together.

  63. Im such a fan of goodwill. I just moved out of my old apartment and I gave any clothes I hadn’t worn in 6 months to goodwill. Does that count as charity?

  64. Hi Sarah:
    Indeed that sounds very charitable.

  65. What a great idea!

  66. Love this. This is awesome! $1 more!

  67. Time to lean on my shoulder and be heard by someone who isn’t thinking of the next thing she’s going to say to make them feel better.

    Surprising what a listening ear will do for a hurting person.

  68. The greatest gift I have received… as I have no job, no car, and no place … is all three plus the understanding of my family to take such a leap on my own.

    I ❤ my family for the love, support and the prayer's. I miss them and I wish I could make up for all the hard times I put them through.

  69. wow, good deal, I am glad to make this comment for goodness’ sake.

    Bless your heart!

  70. The best gift I’ve ever given? Understanding and forgiveness; not easy to do!

    I love Goodwill – not only for their wonderful programs but also for the thrill of the hunt! I love to drop in once in a while and look at everything. I found a gorgeous Fendi bag at Goodwill, and vintage perfume. I love knowing I’m repurposing items and supporting others.

    Thanks for doing this!

  71. The greatest gift I’ve ever given was a poem for my mom on mothers day and a poem for my father on fathers day. And lots of poems for others…poems for everyone 🙂

  72. I support. I had a client with a developmental disability to works for goodwill. Its awesome!

  73. George,
    I wish more people (myself included) were as generous as you.

    I am not sure what the greatest gift I ever gave was, but the greatest gift I ever received was a Golden Retriever stuffed animal from my Grandmother. See, I had always wanted a Golden Retriever, just like my Grandma’s dog, Lacy. And, for Christmas one year, she got me a stuffed animal. I am in college now and I hold it when I’m having a bad day and still sleep with it at night. It reminds me of her…

  74. This is bull crap. If you’re so guilty about not giving to charities, then why don’t you just save time and give the $1000 dollars now instead of waiting for 1000 comments? What, are you so cheap that your hoping the outturning ammount will be less than 1000? I’m just wondering is all.

  75. Good stuff, I guess this makes it $80? I really have yet to give a gift worth the “greatest” label or even “great”. I’ll just have to say working hard in school today for a better tomorrow for my family. And I do think this is a noble idea you got here. Even if you are “cheap” ; )

  76. Namaste kind sir. I cannot regard any gift I have ever given as a thing of greatness for all manner of reasons; however, everything I have ever given was offered from a place in my heart that seems to remain hopeful in spite of cloudy skies or impending rainy seasons.
    I like the notion of random conversations with strangers that blossom into meaningful smiles we can hold onto and feel warm inside about.
    I feel blessed that our world is filled with generous spirits like yourself that help us to remember what the family of humanity can look like when we’re willing to hold each other’s hands.

    Good Luck & Brilliant Holidays to you-one, and all!!

  77. Gr8 post and a gr8 & very worthy organization. I’m a Goodwill regular. I’ve been finding treasures there for years. But the gr8test gift I’ve ever given? I’d like to think I haven’t given it yet. Starting with heart and going from there…perhaps I can make it the next one. And the one after that. And so on, and so on. Working toward giving the next gr8test gift. Giving my time & talents & energy to spreading love, tolerance and knowledge. Merry Christmas!

  78. These are great posts! Keep ’em coming! Please spread the word so we can get to $1K by Christmas!

  79. wel done for donating for every post written!

  80. this is a FAB idea. it is my hope that you not only meet your goal, but that your thoughtful, pro-active post is an inspiration to others to make a difference in the lives of others. : )

  81. Hey George – Great idea. Greatest gift is organizing fundraisers for a camp serving kids with cancer. We raise $$$ that sends lots of kids to the camp and raise awareness for the charity too. We all have means to make plays. Way to work it here.

  82. Thanks for inviting the rest of the WordPress community to have a part in your generous gift!

    I think the best gift I’ve ever given is time and attention: a listening ear offered to an elderly relative, a Salvation Army bell ringer, someone at the bus stop, a coworker, and so on. I can’t always do it, but I know that taking the time to stop and listen is one of the most meaningful things we can do for one another.

    And now I’m on my way the neighborhood Goodwill store to drop off some outgrown clothing and exchange some hard-earned dollars for an as-yet-undiscovered treasure.

  83. The greatest gift I have ever given someone: A scrapbook to a friend who was leaving the country.

  84. As the manager of PR/Comms for Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee (Nashville) your generosity on behalf of this awesome organization is amazing.

    Our team, across the board, is inspired every day by our clients and employees. And I’m so grateful that my job is to tell the story of what we do to help people improve their skills, job searches and find success. To see people, many of whom come to us with little expectation, find jobs and the ability to support themselves, is what keeps us inspired. And it’s all thanks to the generosity of our donors, who, by simply giving us the ‘stuff’ they no longer need, want or use, allow our Goodwill to fund programs and provide work for 1,400 people. Me included!

    The greatest gift for me is to see my two sons grow into young men with good hearts, compassion and the willingness to go many extra miles for others.

    Happy Hanukkah and a happy and healthy new year to everyone.

  85. Thank you everyone! Even you Thomas!

  86. George –
    I love this campaign. Thank you.
    Greatest gift I ever gave someone was my time and compassion. My best friend’s mom passed away from cancer two years ago and during the year in which she was diagnosed before she passed away, I put my own agenda aside and was at their disposal. Cleaning the house, doing dishes, running their youngest brother to team practices, crying with them, laughing with them, sleeping on the hospital room floor, sifting through the bad donated dinners :), praying together, just being there, etc. I’ve never loved so deeply and completely and I am grateful for the way they allowed me to love and serve them.
    Thank you for your initiative to do the same for others. Best of luck.

  87. Inspiring idea! I don’t know if it qualifies as “great”, but I try to always have a willing ear for anyone who needs it.

  88. The greatest gift? Pure, unadulterated love. Period.

  89. Um,… comment. That counts, right?

    Greatest gifts received have been lots of support, encouragement and friendship. I like to think the greatest gifts I’ve given have been the same.

    Happy holidays.

  90. Hi Bro,

    Great idea! Happy Holidays to all.

    Can I leave a comment for everyone in the family 🙂

  91. Hi Erik!
    Of course you can! See you next week at mom and dad’s!

  92. Hmm…the greatest gift I’ve ever given someone? The one that got the best response was when I completed our wedding album and gave it to my husband — a mere 10 years or so after we got married.

  93. Great idea George and James! I can remember going with my dad to the Morgan Memorial donation truck in Lexington as a little kid to donate clothes and other items. I’ve been supporting them ever since and love this new method of giving.

    Kudos to you both, because I hear that this world wide web thing is going to be pretty huge!

  94. Well done, George. What an excellent idea and worthy organization.

    Considering the current economy, this is precisely the time for us all to remember the good work of organizations like Goodwill and give enthusiastically.

    Merry Christmas to both you and The Honorable Mr. Harder.

  95. What a lovely idea! Will spread the word to help reach your goal

  96. A thousand thank yous to the people at Goodwill who help look after those who in need. What a great organization – I never knew.

    I don’t have a greatest gift that i have given that I can think of … nothing that compares to the wonderful stories posted above anyway. This has definately made me think more about doing more meaningful things for family, friends and strangers than the traditional gift giving!

    Some great inspirational posts to get me started 🙂

  97. What a wonderful thing to do, George!

    I think that the greatest gifts that I have given are the things that I have done for kids in need. I started giving to Christmas in the City years ago and this year my husband and I gave gifts to two kids at the Home for Little Wanderers. I also was a volunteer foster care case reviewer at the Department of Social Services a few years back. One memorable moment was when I convinced a teenage girl in foster care to open up about what she really needed from DSS and hadn’t gotten. She shyly asked for a computer, any computer, and the Social Worker jumped to attention and admitted that she could probably find an extra one somewhere. The knowledge that a few kids in difficult situations might smile because of something that I did…well…that helps me through some days when I feel like I just can’t do anything right, you know? Especially when being a good enough mother for my son seems impossible.

    Happy Holidays to you and your family, George!


  98. The greatest gift anyone can give is of love and compassion. It’s not about the monetary donation since none is too small; it’s your participation in hope and betterment that counts!

    Happy Holidays.

  99. The greatest gift is the ability to appreciate what we already have and can do instead of focusing on the opposite. Thank you for sharing, George!

  100. I am thankful for my family and friends… both near and far. I am thankful for traditions and taking part in helping out a great organization!

  101. The greatest gift I’ve ever given (or received) is love and support to/from family and friends.

    I work at Goodwill Keystone Area in PA. Here is a link to one of our success stories:

  102. First, as a Goodwill employee (in PA) I have to say- what a great way to give back and get people talking about Goodwill!

    The greatest gift I’ve ever given has to be my time spent in Americorps. I haven’t had the resources to give a lot financially, but was blessed with the support of a great family that allowed me to spend two years volunteering and serving in Americorps.

  103. Every year, I always feel best about the gifts I give to children through our church’s Angel Tree. Knowing that you’ve helped make Christmas better for a child in need is really a gift to yourself.

  104. Having worked for Goodwill in Canada for almost 9 years I am truly blessed and inspired by the people that we assist to become independent within their communities. This is the best gift to give and receive.

    Merry Christmas and thank you!

  105. Working for Goodwill in an extended workshop, I truly understand the way donations drive the work adjustment and our very own work center. It has been a difficult year, as many citizens feel disadvantaged themselves. I have always been working in the for-profit realm and now I have been bitten by the non-profit, specifically by the folks who work for me. They truly find ANY KIND of work pleasurable and valuable. I am inspired!

  106. Wonderful wonderful idea. Goodwill does such great things throughout the country–here’s to hoping you can make it to $1,000 for the Boston Goodwill!

  107. Greatest gift: The chance to see things from a different perspective.

  108. I’m not sure of what the “greatest gift” I’ve given is. But it does seem like the greatest gifts often come from one person putting his/herself aside for a moment and really thinking about another person. (not always easy to do!). There is one friend of mine who always comes to mind when I think of really giving people. She puts a lot into her gifts (both physical gifts and efforts for other people). I remember one year she was trying to make a piece of jewelry for a friend from carved stone. She had a certain shape in mind, and had been working at the stone for hours. Just as the thing was really starting to take shape, the stone shattered into a billion pieces. She immediately picked up another piece of stone and started again. I think she did this four or five times before succeeding. Amazing.

  109. George — I think it’s wonderful that you are doing this. Very generous.

    I think the best gift I ever gave was one Christmas when I was a teenager…I wrote my parents a letter thanking them for all they did for my sister and I.

    And, I’ve started a new tradition with my niece last year when she was first born…I decided to write her a letter each year about her life and what she means to me. With it, I give her a charm that reflects the theme of the letter. Last year’s I gave her a passport charm and wrote about how she now held the passport to the world. This year was about firsts and how she experienced so many firsts and told her a bit about her first experiences in life. I include my view of what is going in the world and some stories about me, my mother (her grandmother) and my sister and brother-in-law. I hope she’ll appreciate them someday!

  110. Ok this might sound pretty pathetic, but it was the only thing I could think of. I was riding a bus to school one morning and there was a person on there who mentally was kind of slow. She could function, but she was like a kid inside of an adult body. She was on her way to some workshop and I just heard her sobbing. I asked if she was ok. Come to find out it was her first day attending the workshop and she was scared, and missed her mom and dad. I asked if she wanted to talk to them, and she told me she had no way to do it. So I gave her my cell phone and was able to help her dial to get through to her parents. Her spirits seemed to pick up considerably after that phone call.

  111. Great stories! Thanks you everyone!

  112. The greatest gift I’ve given anyone is love. It’s always unconditional, full of emotion and heart and worthy of great things. It’s uplifting and inspiring. It’s supportive and kind. It’s meaningful and devotional. It’s honest. It hurts.

    “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return” – Moulin Rouge

  113. The greatest gift I think I have given someone is probably the (ongoing) gift of being the family geneaologist. Informing my relatives of interesting new facts I have discovered always gets a good response, and I know it really made a difference for my grandmother to finally have all those odds and ends of information put into a comprehensive story of her past.

  114. Thank you for this wonderful outreach and gift during the holiday season!

    As marketing manager for Goodwill Industries of the Valleys in central and southwest Virginia, I know how important and relevant the job training and employment programs are to everyone throughout the country!

    Keep up the good deeds and Merry Christmas!

  115. The greatest gift that I have ever given was given to my grandmother. We had a gift for each of the 12 days of Christmas. Each night we would knock and leave it on her doorstep. She looked foward to everynight and had no idea who it was. My children loved it!

  116. One of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given anyone just so happens to be one of the most difficult as well. I decided a few years ago to take the 1st step in giving the gift of Forgiveness. Our scripture says to do it, but it’s a lot easier said than done right? After initiating, it was refreshing to see the response. Ended up being a gift to both of us…not intended. Great article George.

  117. First and foremost, thanks for the wonderful thing you’re doing for Goodwill!
    I never think of my gifts to others as being that wonderful, but I can tell you the greatest gifts I’ve received. Whenever one of our program participants achieves his or her goals, I feel as if I’ve received a precious gift. Watching them achieve a greater degree of self-sufficiency and fulfillment is absolutely addictive to the soul.

  118. Hello! I’m with SF Goodwill. Thanks for your generous donation and happy holidays!
    Johnny C.

  119. What a wonderful way to give!

  120. I once had a girlfriend recreate a scene from one of my favorite movies (sixteen candles) – it was my birthday, and she blindfolded me and led me into her living room where there was a cake on a table; we sat across from each other and kissed over the cake, then ate it. one of the most touching, personal gifts ever. it didn’t work out with that girl, but i always remember that when i remember her. she was pretty cool.

    anyway, go goodwill! i’m surely going to tweet and facebook this so that you get 900 more comments!

  121. the greatest Christmas gift was and is just spending the time with my family.

  122. The greatest gift I give is productive distress to help individuals and organizations move beyond the status quo. Most of us avoid questioning assumptions and the discomfort of moving beyond what we believe to be reality. For the past 20 years, helping people doubt their life script (“I’m a loser.” “I’ll never be able to . . . ” “No one will ever hire me.”) so they can transform their lives has been my life investment and gift to community.

  123. The greatest gift i have ever given was to my little brother he is a Tony Romo fan and even thought my wife and I dont have alot of money we got him an autograph Tony Romo Jersey.

    The greatest gift I have ever received is friends and family support while I was going through and fighting cancer specially my boss Richard

  124. Hmmmmmm….By asking this question, George will hopefully get over 1000 people to think about the importance of giving. I’m guessing with this simple query, George will generate allot of introspection about personal generosity and how much more we all could really give. What a clever means to achieve such a wonderful effect on a large number of people. Well done, Mr. Snell.

  125. I once grudgingly gave a homeless woman $5. Not expecting so much, she looked at the bill exclaimed, “Five dollars? Thank you!” Then she turned around and sprinted into the Wendy’s behind us. Remembering that still makes me smile.

  126. What a great idea and I’m sure with your donation you are going to give someone their “greatest gift ever”!!!!!

  127. The greatest gift I ever received? My family; as the youngest of three children whose father died when I was eight years old, I quickly learned the gift that I had right in front of me; a loving family.

    The greatest gift I have given? Giving myself to help others in whatever capacity possible.

  128. This is awesome, what you’re doing. I think that the greatest gift given, by far, is Jesus. That gift represents more love than anything else.

  129. Mandy Mikulencak December 21, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    One of my best Christmas presents has a Goodwill theme to it. Years ago, my brother was destitute, almost homeless in Austin, TX. He got a job as an attendant at a Goodwill donations trailer. He never liked getting or giving Christmas presents but we persuaded him to join the whole family for Christmas. He purchased gifts for all of us from Goodwill. My gift was a little tin cylinder with different attachments for piping icing on cookies. It must have been from the 1950s. I use it every year when I bake gingerbread cookies, and it reminds me of my brother and of how Goodwill helped him during a difficult time.

  130. This is wonderful. I think some of the best gifts one can give are time and compassion. Happy Holidays to everyone!

  131. I give blood at our local blood center and I got my robo call today saying my last pint was used at our local hosital just 7 days after I donated. It’s hard to believe I might be saving lives.

  132. Very cool…. thanks! 🙂

  133. The greatest gift I have received is my job at Goodwill. I was unemployed for 7 months after a layoff and finally found a job with Goodwill. That is the best I could get- an income.

  134. What a great idea!! Love it!!! Giving is a wonderful thing!!

  135. the greatest gift anyone ever gave me was a belated valentines day present: a pair of slippers my girlfriend crocheted. i gave her a bunch of 5th grade esque valentines, which totally did not compare. this year, the greatest holiday present i gave was a bunch of pampering bath supplies for women receiving domestic violence intervention services.

  136. Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

  137. The greatest gifts I’ve ever gotten are a loving wife and a healthy son. Behind that would be the time I get to spend with my family. With my father passing away earlier this year, I regret every day I didn’t spend with him that I could have. I don’t ever want to feel that type of regret again.

  138. What a great idea! Goodwill is such a wonderful organization.

    I think the greatest gift you can give to someone is the gift of cheer, support and merryment 🙂

  139. Perhaps the greatest gift that I ever gave my family was surprising them by coming home for Christmas. At the time I was working in the NFL and had to attend practice in the morning. After the coach gave the team the weekend off, I decided to alter my plans of spending Christmas with a liquid dinner and surprising the family.

    Granted I laid it on very heavy that I was not coming home because of practice and the pending snow storm, however, the look of shock and happiness on everyone’s face when I showed up for dinner was priceless. Well not fully but the blown transmission was worth it.

  140. While I was going thru a nasty divorce, it was also Christmas and I felt like I had the worst life ever. A friend of mine came over one day and said, “Come in, you are coming with me.” We drove to the local food pantry and we delivered boxes to the elderly who couldnt get there. That was the greatest gift that was ever given to me, the smiles and tears of grateful people that were in such a different place than I was that year. I still volunteer every year during the holidays – it is the best gift I could ever give myself.

  141. Great idea! In addition to the gift, you have raised the awareness of Goodwill which will help them continue to make a difference in people’s lives.

    The greatest gift I have even given is time to help others. I hope this gets regifted again and again.

  142. A great idea worth a retweet and comment! Everybody’s MORE than happy to encourage others to contribute, but I encourage everyone to think about giving yourselves. Here’s the link for Goodwill:

    I just donated a small amount. Maybe you can help?

  143. You are commendable; Goodwill is a great organization worthy of your 1K donation. Here’s the rub, if you’re willing to donate $1000, just do it. All this business about comments is self-serving along the lines of corporate grandstanding, a ploy not worthy of a man with heart. Most people won’t notice, but I’m tired of chest thumping, it waters down the act of generosity.

    The greatest gift I ever gave was anonymous. The greatest gift I ever got was also anonymous: life.

    Give without strings.

  144. Great idea! Happy Holidays!

  145. Very nice of you to do this. Happy holidays folks!

  146. Here is to Anonymous re grandstanding, etc. I have had the same thoughts….but….none of us are really giving a dollar…we are being given a gift by a man who no doubt is going to contribute his money to Goodwill mo matter how many posts he gets. We are all being given the chance during this crazy time of materialistic holiday madness, to take a breather and read examples of what real giving is like.

  147. Thanks for taking the initiative to create positive change!

  148. This is wonderful! Thank you so much for doing such a generous and thoughtful thing. I love the idea of spreading joy through the comments as well – anyone can give money, but you are giving so much more by encouraging people to think of others at this time of the year.
    I don’t know that I have ever given any “great” gifts, but I have received many, including the love and support of my family and friends, which is the most important gift I could get.

  149. I’m not sure of the greatest gift but once I did give 100 pairs of shoes to Goodwill! What you’re doing is wonderful! 🙂

  150. Right now the greatest gift I can remember is a gift my 3-year-old granddaughter gave my mother, who rarely gets to see her even though she dotes on her immensely. Like most toddlers, she was at first wary of a near stranger, but then after some interaction, she warmed to Mom. At one point someone said, “Give Grannie a hug, Madison!” and she went right up to Mom and gave her a hug and said “I love you Grannie!” You could see from the expression on Mom’s face how much that meant to her, and how she would relive it for a long time. Madison’s instincts were on her side that day. Thanks, Maddie!

  151. These stories are so heartfelt and very rewarding to read. I have said that being with friends and family is the best gifts I have ever recieved, but this year I was part of one that truely tugged at my heart stings. I am in charge of four growing girl scout troops. I have helped them earn money to put together a project to make quilts for those spending the holidays in a retirement center here in town. They learned lots of skills about using money wisely, how to plan and how to sew them. The paper covered the event which was cool for the kids ranging in age of only 4 to 14 years in age. The coolest part is the smiles from the residents. The fact that these girls that have no relationship with them made them gifts and sang songs of Christmas from the heart was the only thing some of them had for this holiday to look forward to. They loved it and I think that the adults and i loved more seeing the gratitude of the event. That is what Christmas is subpost to be about. Is it not? We are discussing making this an annual event! Christmas has unfortunately become a material thing without the priceless gifts that don’t break and mean so much more. These gifts live way beyond the current time. These are the gifts I love to be a part of and give instead of recieve.

  152. Thanks for all these wonderful stories everyone! It’s a beautiful thing!

  153. I think it is ridiculous that you are leading people to contribute to your blog to donate $1.00. The greatest gift I was ever given was the knowledge and understanding that the one that is truly receiving the gift is not the one that receives but the giver. Maybe someday the gift you will give will be the one that does not require action by other to occur?

  154. Hi Matt:
    Part of the goal isn’t only for me to contribute a donation to Goodwill, but to spread the word about all the wonderful things that it does and to urge other people to contribute to Goodwill as well. Nothing nefarious here. Just a group of people sharing stories about giving to support a worthy cause.

    Sorry if this donation drive rubbed you the wrong way. Happy holidays and thanks for participating!

  155. Kimberly Christian December 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    My boyfriend and I are in many different Goodwills several times a week. We both travel a lot and stop every chance we get. We LOVE the great deals, but the people are even more wonderful. I have a good friend and know another lady that works for Goodwill in their Main Office. They do a great job behind the scenes, but those that help us in the store are terrific! Thank you to everyone that is a part of Goodwill for ALL that you do to give back and help others. I donate several times a year and encourage everyone to do the same!!!

  156. This is dark, but my greatest gift was probably forgiving my Dad for killing himself right before Christmas — I was very angry but then understood how much pain he was in. Now I celebrate Christmas with a more joyful heart.

    I am on the Board of our local Goodwill — what a fantastic organization, giving training and jobs, selling goods at prices anyone can afford, and keeping so much stuff out of landfills. Goodwill does it all!

  157. We had a tradition when I was a child: We could pick up a doll (there were different sizes) at a local charity and make clothes for the doll, then bring her back dressed and with extra outfits. It was lots of fun for my sister and me to make doll clothes with Mom.

  158. Hope!

    I try to give others hope for whatever they might be facing. I know as a new employee of Goodwill I have been given Hope for a better tomorrow. I was laid off twice in one year followed by 6 months unemployment. All the while I suffered from severe migraines that kept me from doing a lot of things. I was blessed with hope by meeting a woman who suffered from migraines as well and helped me find some relief with different techniques and herbal remedies. The migraines are far from gone but they are somewhat manageable. I then met a man who worked for Goodwill. He understood migraines and the pain they cause, he urged me to apply at Goodwill for a job they had open. I went thru the application process and was hired on. Since that date I have found appreciation from others for what I do, a camaraderie like none I have seen in my working experience, and a supervisor that, dare I say, I couldn’t have a better boss. I have found Hope not only in my employment but in my faith in God as well. My Church family has been amazing, to say the least.

    I want to personally thank you for the gift you are giving. It’s this type of giving that renews hope for a lot of people.

  159. Thanks for doing this!! I think the greatest gift that I’ve given and anyone can give is unconditional love!
    Happy Holidays!

  160. Sometimes the best gifts come when you least expect them. Last year my family members helped another family on its way to celebrate Christmas in another state when they were involved in a very serious car accident (icy roads) that rolled their vehicle several times. There were injuries and medical transport was required. Once the ambulance came and transported the family, we picked up the pieces of their Christmas…wrapped presents, holiday goodies and suitcases scattered along the highway, and some still in the back part of the vehicle. We stored the goods for the family until they could get treatment and new transportation to continue on the way to Grandma’s house. The unfortunate incident was a fresh lesson for my family in the value of family and gave a burst of emotion/pride to us because we were able to really help some people who unexpectly were in need. It’s sort of like the buzz that we get every day at Goodwill when we help people to work to their own level of self sufficiency. Happy holidays.

  161. Happy Holidays!

  162. Pretty sure the best gift I have to offer is time. I find myself willing to help anyone in need and I work really hard to make the time to do so. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  163. Nice idea, George. I was stuck in that journalistic impartiality rut for so long it became second nature until this past presidential election. It took me that long to realize that I didn’t have to sit on the sidelines any more. I guess the only exception was the giving line at church. That never felt like a conflict of interest.

  164. Merry Christmas, Mr. McGrail!

  165. What a wonderful idea, George!

    The greatest holiday gift I’ve given to someone was to purchase Christmas gifts for my father’s god daughter for several years after her father passed away, leaving behind the girl and her mother with limited income.

    There’s something magical about being a part of a child’s true joy, especially this time of year!

  166. I think we all get so caught in our busy lives that we forget that there are people out there that are so less fortunate than us. After experiencing one of the most difficult things in my life, I could have focused on myself and wallowed in self pity. However, my mom challenged me to rise above that and join an organization that gives to others. This has helped me find hope in such a difficult time and that is the greatest gift ever.

  167. We don’t always know the impact we have had on others but for sure the greatest gift of all is love.

  168. This is awesome! I do give much to animal charities because they have the softest voices of all(none) but I think this shows what the true spirit of Christmas is all about!


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