Showing posts with label giving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label giving. Show all posts

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Christmas Jars - Movie Review

Watch Christmas Jars - Free Online Streaming
This time of year I am looking for inspirational movies in keeping with the true spirit of Christmas.  I love stories with heart, so when I came upon Christmas Jars, I knew I had found my kind of holiday movie.

Based on Jason F. Wright's New York Times bestselling novel, this film is for anyone who appreciates a focus on kindness, generosity, hope, forgiveness, compassion, and family.

As the movie begins, Hope Jensen, a 22-year-old aspiring writer is going through really hard times. Just when she is at her lowest, Hope discovers that someone has left a jar filled with coins on her doorstep.

The mystery of who committed this random act of kindness grips Hope.  She goes into full investigative journalist mode in her quest to uncover the perpetrator of this anonymous generosity.

Of course, there are twists and turns along the way, for that is the nature of life, and a good holiday movie.  Hope does find the beautiful individual who left her a gift much bigger than a sum of money.  Things become complicated, however, when she must choose between protecting the identity of her benefactor or achieving the long-awaited dream of publishing the feature that skyrockets her career.

This isn't a spoiler review, so I am being careful not to reveal too much.  Let's just say there will be elements of romance and finding what you have always needed.  In wrestling with her moral dilemma, and coming out on the other side, Hope experiences the power of compassion, forgiveness, and chosen family.

Though the movie is associated with a faith organization, there are no religious overtones.  It is simply a wholesome family film that can be enjoyed by all.  Originally released in November of 2019 as a special one-night theater event, Christmas Jars recently made its debut on television.  Both the original novel and the movie have spawned an ever-expanding kindness movement.  Millions of dollars in spare change has been collected and distributed to individuals in need.

In conjunction with seeing the movie (I've provided you with this link to watch it for free online), I encourage you to visit the Christmas Jars website to be moved by the personal stories of recipients of that kindness.  There is so much goodness that often goes unreported by the news networks.  I found that these true stories were a reminder that it is the small acts of love that change the world for the better—one person at a time.

As I was working on this review, and doing my own Hope-esque search for the backstory behind this movie, and the phenomenon of the Christmas Jars, I discovered something really wondrous.  The author of the book, Jason F. Wright, actually started the tradition of the Christmas jar with his wife and young children back in 2004.

When they were looking for a new family tradition that would make the holidays extra special, they decided to place all of their spare change in a jar throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Then, they would select someone—an individual or family—who needed some encouragement.  That first jar contained about $88.  On Christmas Eve, they crept up on the chosen family's porch, placed their jar of coins by the door, rang the doorbell, and then ran to hide behind some bushes.

Here's where it gets really good.  In 2005, when Wright's book was first released, and had not yet achieved NYT bestseller status, he found himself downsized at work and a bit financially strapped.  It was at that moment when someone anonymously left Wright and his family their very own Christmas jar.  The tradition had gone full circle.  How beautiful is that?

It may not seem like much, but as you will read from the testimonies, a Christmas jar can be miraculous to the one needing a miracle, or a reminder that they are seen and loved.  I am filling my own jar of coins even as we speak.  On Christmas Eve, I plan to leave someone a little bit of tender loving kindness.  For what are the holidays if not a time to be a messenger of hope and light?











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Monday, November 17, 2014

A Season of Giving

As Thanksgiving approaches in the United States, a feeling of thanks and celebration of life begins and continues through Christmas. This also becomes the season of giving.  I have always believed that we tend to donate more to charities and to others less fortunate than ourselves during this season.
Give Thanks - Postcard
Give Thanks - Postcard by GotWords
Look at more Attitude Postcards at zazzle

My feeling about increased giving seems to have some statistical proof. As reported in a Reuters article, the results of a December 2010 survey conducted by Causes.com are:

"The Holiday season is definitely the time of year that many Americans feel like giving back. According to Causes, donation amounts on the site increase by 42% during November and December compared to other months throughout the remainder of the year. Also, three times as many people make donations during the Holidays vs. non-Holiday months."
Be Thankful Throw Pillows
Be Thankful Throw Pillows by celebrationideas
View other Thanksgiving Pillows at Zazzle.com

After having donated small and scarce amounts of my "extra" money to scams or to organizations that are later revealed as organizations that misuse the donations, I have cut back on some of my impulsive giving. Instead, I have begun to research charities that have better track records.

While recently having a conversation of a similar topic, another person responded that they give, and if the money is misused, that is on the conscience of the con-artist or person who mismanages the money.  I agree. And yet, If I give my only extra $20 to a charity that misuses it, that is $20 less that is given to someone in need.   That makes me cringe.

Initially, I was going to give a list of my favorite charitable organizations. Then I decided that rather than review my preferences, I would give you the tools to review your own.

A few years ago, I stumbled upon what appears to be an honest and neutral organization that "rates" charities based on a variety of criteria.  Charity Navigator advertises itself as "your guide to intelligent giving".  I agree with that statement.  Using Charity Navigator has helped me decide which charities I want to give to.

As I said, they rate charities based on a variety of things: transparency, fundraising, and percentage of the funds that are used for the recipients as opposed to going back into fundraising or administrative costs.  They show statistics, and financial reports, as well as create an easy to  understand pie graph.

In my mind, I look for two main things in a charity.  I want to know that a high percentage of the donations are going into the programs. I also want to know that the charity isn't under any sort of investigation.

Charity Navigator makes it easy to find charities by topic or by rating.  I typically browse in the categories of  "animals" or "military" but you can easily find a category that suits you best. I typically look at the pie chart to see how the money is both raised and earned. And I end with looking at the list of similar organizations.

I also regularly look at the Charity Navigator Top Ten Lists and the Donors Advisory list.  That way I can see the best and possibly the worst charities.  I feel as though it keeps me educated.

During this Thanksgiving season, I wish you love, peace, good company, and good food. And I hope I have provided you with some new and useful information if you are planning on giving during this season of thanks.


Written by Dawn Rae
Disclosure: In affiliation with Zazzle.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of  Zazzle products.




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