By Kim Everson, DVM
|Our herd of Santa Pigs|
The Christmas season inspires giving of all kinds. Giving trees crop up in churches, malls and libraries. Businesses and fraternal organizations “Adopt a Family” to provide a complete array of holiday cheer. Scores of people volunteer their time ringing bells or working in food pantries. Shoeboxes filled with toiletries, school supplies and little trinkets fill shipping containers destined for impoverished children worldwide.
Every year, as we hustle about picking out gifts for our loved ones, sending out cards, trimming the tree and preparing deliciously fatty fare for holiday parties, my kids and I like to take a moment to do at least one good deed. During 2012 the spirit of charitable giving lasted more than a few weeks in our home. Last Christmas my parents gave each of their children a Santa Pig bank. The goal was for each family to collect a year’s worth of loose change with our combined collection going to charity. My kids loved overturning couch cushions to stuff the pig. It even became ok for the kids to pick up those sticky parking lot pennies and dimes! This year our four families raised enough money to buy a llama and a flock chickens for Heifer International. And now, of course, Santa Pig is back in his place of prominence ready for more loose change.
Christmas charity touches lives in the veterinary clinic, too. Amazing acts of selflessness on behalf of needy animals is not limited to Christmastime, of course. Many stray cats are brought in for a little “tune-up” before the finder sets out to find them a home. Countless families absorb the costs of caring for an ailing elderly relative’s beloved pet. But in this week between Christmas and New Year, we were amazed at the generosity of strangers on behalf of some deserving but struggling pet owners. One woman decided to pay for her neighbor’s dog spay, knowing the owner’s pet budget had dwindled over the past months due to several unexpected surgical and medical procedures his puppy required. A local business owner surprised her employee by absorbing the cost of an examination for her very sick kitty — and released her from work early to ensure she could keep her appointment!
Separately the Christmas spirit or the plight of helpless animals seems to bring out the best in people. Together they appear to be a winning combination for charitible giving! As we head into the New Year, it is my resolution that Santa Pig will continue to inspire each member of my family to make daily contributions of time, talents and tender on behalf of others.