Make it a better season of giving

Fundraisers, a move away from the traditional gift giving during special occasions, are appealing to the younger generation

pic by TMR FILE

THE season of giving is here. As with every other season, shopping malls would be decorated accordingly way ahead of time, to get shoppers into the festive mood, and yes, the mood to spend.

In the global shift towards digitalisation, websites and e-commerce platforms are designed to suit the seasons and attract buyers.

While shopping is normally a treat, a leisurely day out at the mall, the task sometimes becomes a chore or even a burden when it comes to the festive seasons.

Be it for Christmas, Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Chinese New Year or Deepavali, we would hear about people stressing over their long shopping lists that never seem to end.

Not only are we living in a world where material gifts are expected to be given and received — replacing the true meaning of why we celebrate events, but we are also expected to give things within a certain price range.

Giving a much-needed pair of socks is not enough, it seems. They must somehow also be of renowned brands. Some workplaces also play “Secret Santa” where you pick out a random name out of a hat or a bag, and regardless of whether you know that person or not (or if you even like them), you are required to buy them a gift.

This often comes with a disclaimer such as: Gifts must not be less than RM50.

How and when gift-buying became a norm could not really be ascertained, but it is still the practice now, and it is made even more so with the advent of online shopping with major online sales like 11.11 and 12.12.

However, there now seems to be a new practice or trend, albeit a small and slow one.

It is one where a person would reach out to their friends and family, asking to donate for a certain cause in place of gifts, to make their special days even more meaningful.

With Facebook Fundraisers, a user known as Mila started a fundraiser for her birthday in September.

Instead of presents, she asked those in her network to donate to “One Tree Planted” with a mission to reforest the planet and provide education, awareness and engagement on the importance of trees in the ecosystem.

“This would mean a lot to me, and I’d want nothing more for my birthday,” Mila wrote in a message to her Facebook friends, and they came through. Mila targeted to raise RM1,704, but the natureloving Mila did better as she raised RM1,733.

Besides the environment, other categories available on Facebook Fundraisers include causes for animals, arts and culture, education and crisis relief, among others.

This month, martial arts instructor Aaron released a line of training apparel, and the proceeds would be utilised to feed stray animals.

This is a two-in-one approach where the donor gets to simultaneously contribute to a meaningful cause and purchase some items.

“Imagine the difference we can make if we decide to save one stray we chance upon. No stray wants to be born into this world without food, shelter and unconditional love,” said Aaron, who has provided a forever home to 14 cats and five dogs, all of which he had rescued from the streets.

Fundraisers, a move away from the traditional gift giving during special occasions, are appealing to the younger generation who not only want to see changes in this world but are taking baby steps to make those changes happen.

Many of those who organised such fundraisers testified that they had even received contributions from people who would not normally buy them gifts.

This not only takes away the stress of buying presents, but people may even look forward to spending their money, knowing that just a couple of ringgit could help make the world a better place.

Now, this certainly brings back the meaning to “the season of giving”.

Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.