Countdown to Tuesday’s Combined Federal Campaign ‘Day of Giving’

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

Or is it? The “season” — Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, generic holidays or whatever you call it — isn’t necessarily a happy time for everyone.

A close friend who is a retired federal senior executive spends much of his time as board chairman for a food distribution nonprofit in one of the large counties contiguous to the District. It’s a wealthy county with a median income of around $100,000.  At a shopping strip in what the locals call “the village,” you take your life in your hands in the parking lot dodging the expensive, LED-bejeweled SUVs.

Yet more than 16 percent of the children in this county are “food insecure” — the current term of art for people who might be hungry or might not know if they’ll have enough money for the next meal. More than 80,000 of the county’s million residents are food insecure, according to the group.

Last year it distributed some 4 million pounds of donated food to the hungry. Besides food, though, this charity needs dollars for facilities and logistics and a staff to keep it going all year.

It’s one of thousands of local and regional charities listed by the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area. Tomorrow is CFC’s day of giving. This year’s pledge period runs until Jan. 11.

Each holiday season federal employees’ pledges nationwide net tens of millions of dollars for charities of all descriptions. The CFC organization says in 57 years, feds have contributed a total of $8.3 billion.

Whatever your cause, there’s a recipient via the CFC.

All of the charities have been screened so donors know they’re legit. If there’s a cause you care about — a particular disease, homelessness, veterans in need, drinking water in Africa, dog or cat rescues, etc.  — it’s there.

One recent academic study showed an inverse relationship between happiness and social media consumption. That is, the more people consume, the more lonely and depressed they feel. I think the same is true of holiday season advertising.

Everyone lives in a mansion decorated to a T. Snow falls gently and delightfully. Life, to quote a Broadway song, is “world of pleasure and privilege … elegant, elite. A private Arcadia … where life is sweet!”

The ads and all the rest of the consumer hoopla can really make you feel left behind. A good antidote is to help someone else who really is left behind. Tomorrow’s Day of Giving is a opportunity to do just that.