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Friday, November 16, 2018

A Reflection: Why I Give Back


Can you believe Thanksgiving is already next week and the holidays are less than a month away? As we fly at lightning speed into the end of the year busyness, our friend Niki McGloster reflects on why she gives back.


Over-the-top holidays were a staple for my family when I was in elementary school. Mountainous stacks of gifts would await my sister and me on Christmas morning and culinary feasts fed us until we popped on Thanksgiving. And though we weren’t rich by any means, in between the influxes of consumerism, my parents did their best to cater to our wants with what they worked hard to earn. During these years, I have to admit, I was an ungrateful little brat. I wasn’t much of a willful sharer. I have a sister who is two years my senior and would seemingly be my partner in all my kiddie Barbie scenarios, but I was obsessed with the greedy notion that everything was mine, from my OshKosh B'gosh to my classic Gameboy video games. That’s not to say that my mom didn’t do her best to teach me gratefulness and lovingly snatch a doll or two from my tiny grip to hand it to a fellow child. Trust me, she tried her best. 

However, as life does, it awakened my desire to give to others willingly and compassionately. As I grew older and my parents’ divorce set us all back financially, no matter how tough I believed we had it, I met and cared for others who faced challenges that were even tougher than mine. I witnessed my fair share of lower-income families who were forced into homelessness because they couldn’t pay outrageous amounts in rent, I watched as single parents pieced together meals for their kids in egregious food deserts, and I witnessed heartbrokenly how some couldn’t afford appropriate clothes for season changes. It’s those moments that demanded my appreciation for any and everything I had and thrust me into charitable work. 

Over the years, I’ve participated in the Hashtag Lunchbag initiative, mentored troubled youth, sat on committees for healthy food programs and volunteered at food pantries to offset how much others have to suffer, to alleviate poverty and to strengthen the communities of which I am an integral part. We all are.

The significance of giving to others, whether it’s a care package or your precious time, is great. Plus, all aspects of life encourage us to give in some way: our various faiths praise good Samaritans, universal teachings boast that we’re all in this together, and even the current political climate begs for us to lend a helping (and united) hand to our fellow brothers and sisters. With our ability to share our charitable efforts on social media and our limitless access to resources, we have a civic duty to become emotionally aware of others’ circumstances and invite others to do the same. 

At the end of the day, and selfishly (ironically), giving back just makes me feel good. And if that selfishness betters the lives of others in any way, that’s a type of selfish that I can live with.

Niki McGloster is a Maryland-based writer and co-founder of her sweat. She has written for ESSENCE, Genius, Billboard, VIBE and Teen Vogue. Follow her on Twitter at @missjournalism. 

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