Ah, the holidays. A time to decorate the house, shop for gifts, bundle up and drink some hot chocolate. A time to sing carols, watch TV specials and spend some quality time with the family.
It's also a time to bring tidings of comfort and joy.
The Who Gives? campaign by Athletes for Hope does just that. The charitable organization that assists athletes in contributing to the community started its campaign with an online debate that asks the question, "Do professional athletes have an obligation to give back to the community?" Athletes including Tony Hawk, Mia Hamm, Steve Nash and Heather Mitts have weighed in with their thoughts on are-athletes-obligated.org .
And if the online debate is all talk, now it's time to walk the talk. December 16, 2009 marks the launching of the second part of the campaign, called Who Gives? Racing for a Cause . Athletes from all over the country compete in a fundraising challenge for their charity of choice. The athletes who raise the most money and receive the highest number of donations will win additional monetary prizes for their respective projects. They have until January 15, 2010 to accept donations.
"It's an interesting thing because athletes like to compete, and now we're competing to help others," observes Boston Breakers captain Kristine Lilly.
The World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist is one of the athletes involved in this friendly competition. Her charity of choice is Clifford's Gift , a West Chester, PA-based non-profit organization founded by her high school best friend, Elizabeth DeRosa.
"Clifford's Gift gives to the homeless. It gives to people that need money for medicine, for food, for clothes, for just the opportunity to keep [their] feet on the ground. It's amazing how many people [DeRosa] has reached and how much more we could reach with this campaign," explains Lilly.
The organization, with the help of donations, has so far done a lot for the less fortunate. This includes purchasing three vehicles as modes of transportation for homeless people, donating blankets, pillows and toiletries to shelters, sending relief items to Hurricane Katrina victims, and providing food and medicine to the needy.
Yet with all these, more help is still needed.
Those who are feeling the spirit of giving during this time of the year, and would like to help Clifford's Gift provide the homeless with life-sustaining medications and bedding supplies, are welcome to visit its page on Global Giving to learn more. Donations can be as low as $10.
"I think we all have an obligation [to give back to the community]. If we stop giving back in some way, the cycle for helping others really stops. I think it's just important for people to give to others that need help," adds Lilly.
"That's really the heart of humanity, to help others."