December 11, 2020

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Family donation makes a significant impact to those in need

Kimberly PohoveyI vividly remember the boxes of fruit lining the entire perimeter of our garage and towering nearly to the ceiling. Every Christmas, Dad would have the fruit delivered directly to our home which became a make-shift fruit basket-assembling business. As part of my Dad’s fruit and meat market, he would sell hundreds of festive fruit baskets during the holiday season.

The whole family was part of the operation. My parents and siblings all participated in the assembly line, packing the fruit into baskets, wrapping them in cellophane and topping it off with a beautiful bow.

I was assigned bow-making duty. This was back in the day before you could purchase pre-made bows with sticky backs. We had an industrial bow-making machine in which you would thread the ribbon through a crazy contraption which would zigzag back and forth until its product resembled a perfectly tied bow. I would release the bow from the machine and stab the back with a pointy plastic piece to adhere a stick-on back.

I’m sure my older siblings grumbled at having to pack fruit baskets one more year, but as a youngster, I reveled in this enterprise. Not only did I love the sense of purpose it provided to me at a young age, it was a time when our whole family gathered together to work on a common project. It felt like a magical time, and I eagerly awaited the fruit delivery each year. I think that feeling was only enhanced by the purpose.

Dad proudly sold those baskets at his store, but he also loved giving away quite a few of them to people throughout our community—sometimes as thank-you gifts, but also to folks who were struggling financially. He was a generous man.

At some point, as my siblings and I aged and our family grew quite large, we decided to stop our family gift exchange and instead pool our monies and donate the entire amount to a charitable cause. My five siblings and I take turns each year organizing our donations and selecting the cause. When we gather for our annual Christmas party, whomever organized the donation that year gives a brief update about the cause we supported and the impact of the gift.

Through the years, we have made donations to groups like the Arthritis Foundation—since many of my family suffer from this ailment. In past years, we have bought toys for a local hospital, coats for homeless people, helped send underprivileged Catholic school students on a trip to Washington, D.C., and so much more.

My favorite was the Christmas after Dad passed away. I was in charge of the family donation that year, so I used the money to purchase as many fruit baskets as possible and donated them to a local food pantry to be distributed to folks in need. It felt so good to make this donation in memory of my Dad, but I was also able to involve my husband and two young sons in the process and share with them the fruit basket experience I had as a child.

I know many of us make generous donations to worthy non-profits, especially at Christmas. I have found that my family’s idea of pooling our money affords us the opportunity to make a more significant impact.

How can you gather with others, be it family, friends, neighbors or other groups, to share your God-given abundance with those in need? I guarantee you will feel not only the warmth of giving, but the sense of community which unites us.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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