One of my favorite holiday-related errands is to buy toys. Phil and I always pick up a few things for Toys for Tots, and I'll hit the Family Giving Tree for a donation or two as well. I love reading things like:
That's his artwork at left, by the way. He asked for a football and a basketball.
One of the reasons I like the Family Giving Tree is because the requests remind me how humble many of our wants or needs are. This is not necessarily the case with all giving trees -- occasionally, I read something about someone who's taken aback at the brand-name and big-ticket requests some of the needy make.
I can understand thinking, "I can't afford [Big Ticket Item] for myself -- why would I buy it for someone else?" But I wonder if it's just a slippery slope down to the sentiment "The needy should be grateful for whatever they get -- it's better than nothing at all." I can't get behind that. I may not always remember that gratitude ought never be expected, but I can not back the idea that it should be compulsory in any charitable transaction.
So I do not have it in me to begrudge anyone their desire for nice things, for things that make them feel as though they belong in the ranks of "normal" Americans kids and families. And to sidestep the whole complicated issue of generosity and reward, I now avoid non-virtual giving trees.
But let me throw open the floor to you ... Giving trees: Do you participate? What -- if any -- limits do you place on any participation? And do you think there should be limits on what people ask for?