I’ve always been an anonymous guy. That gifts, whenever possible, should be given without personal recognition. When you give to others, they should not know the giver. If I’m completely honest, I’ve probably been a little self-righteous about it all.
I serve on the board for The Community Outreach, an organization that provides financial assistance, mentoring, advocacy, and assists the needs of struggling people. They hold an event called Sharing Christmas. Families from the area, with financial need, are given the opportunity to select presents for their kids and household items are available for the adults.
Gifts are given by donors either anonymously or the donors can arrange to meet and deliver the items to the recipients. If given anonymously, the gifts are available at the Ministry Center and families come to pick them up. I helped for a couple hours loading packages into recipient’s cars.
One mother, with a beautiful 4 year old daughter, came to the center. As I was loading gifts, the daughter did what 4 year olds do when they are excited. She could barely maintain herself. I wished them a Merry Christmas and as I was ready to walk back into the building the mom said, “My daughter is just so excited that she will be able to get gifts this Christmas. I’d really like to thank the family, this means so much to us.”
I told the mom that it was my understanding that if they were anonymous gifts, the families could not be contacted. I told her she could write a note of thanks and she indicated she had already filled out a card to be mailed. The mom could not hide her disappointment. “OK,” she said. “I just wanted to be able to thank the people that made this possible.”
A couple things hit me. First, the sadness of knowing beautiful 4 year old girls in our world don’t always receive Christmas gifts. But also that my desire for anonymity denies the receiver of one very important thing – the ability to say thank you.
Now I’m not going to start requesting a plaque be given for each of my donations and still know there are times that giving anonymously is preferable for me. But I’ll rethink my arrogance and I’ll also realize sometimes my being nameless buffers me from a connection and from something people want to offer that I need to be willing to receive – a heart-felt thanks.