Seattle Foundation Blog

From Our Team to Yours

Staff share a few of their favorite giving traditions for the holiday season.


December 11, 2019

By Courtney Elop, Philanthropic Associate Advisor

The holiday wonderland is in full swing outside our offices in downtown Seattle. But this time of year is about more than twinkling lights and festivities. The season is also a time to reflect, give thanks, and celebrate community. 

Our Philanthropic Services team at Seattle Foundation likes to do those things all year round, but we’re fortunate to witness even more joy and thoughtfulness toward the end of the year. In the spirit of the season, our team shared some of the giving traditions we enjoy with our loved ones. We offer them to you with the hope they may spark inspiration for you. Much like the philanthropists we work with every day, we each have different interests based on our own experiences and values.  

“One of my favorite things to receive in the mail is the World Wildlife Fund gift catalog,” Elizabeth says. “Every year we each pick an animal to adopt, knowing that the money will go toward conservation efforts for that endangered animal. It’s an added bonus that with every ‘adoption’ comes a plush toy, a certificate highlighting the conservation efforts, and a WWF reusable bag.” This year, Elizabeth and her family plan to make an additional donation to WWF’s work with U.S. cities, states, and businesses around the Paris Climate Agreement.

Some of our year-end rituals focus on our neighbors. “For the past five years, my husband and I, alongside our fellow Beacon Hill neighbors, have provided gifts and clothing for students and their parents at Denise Louie Education Center,” Shannon says. “By supporting DLEC, we support multicultural early learning and family support services.”

Elaine’s giving traditions are shaped by a desire to spread kindheartedness and to get her kids involved. “My husband and I encourage our two children to partake in random acts of kindness during the holiday season,” she says. “Every year we seek out opportunities such as food drives, toy drives, coat drives and other similar efforts.”

With young children at home, Allison and Lauren both like to involve their kids in helping others during the holiday season. “When I became a parent a few years ago,” Lauren says, “I was a bit shocked by the volume of new items that I needed – diapers, bottles, clothes, and gear. One of my new favorite holiday traditions is hosting a gathering with my fellow parent friends and kiddos, and collecting items to donate to WestSide Baby.” 

For Allison, practicality is critical: “My son is school-aged and likes to pick a child around his age and help shop for a toy and a book, and we include a grocery store gift card for the child’s family. When he was smaller we’d ‘adopt’ an animal in his name, but more recently have used the GlobalGiving.org website where he chooses environmental-related projects around the world and reads the updates throughout the year.” Now that her daughter is a toddler, she expects their family will return to adopting animals from the Zoo or World Wildlife Federation.  

My personal favorite? My family is often traveling during the holidays—and in a stroke of genius one year, my mother suggested that rather than traveling with gifts for everyone we should pool our money together and make a donation. And thus, a new holiday tradition was created. Now my siblings and I take turns choosing and coordinating the donation. As a family of immigrants, in the past we’ve given to KIND, which represents children in immigration court. We've also given to The Trevor Project, a suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth, in honor of my brother who is a proud member of the LGBTQ community. 

Whether your traditions are grounded in your interests, community or life experiences, we welcome you to share in the joy of giving. Happy holidays!

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