The Joy of Giving Back

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During my travels I try to point out to my kids the areas outside of our lovely hotels and comfortable stays that represent the reality of many of the people who live and work in the places we visit – not as something to feel sorry for or stare at, but as something to be aware of and remember when they look at their comfortable life.

Not having a lot at times in my life really helped to give me a good sense of the world and of myself. I enjoy the things I have more. I appreciate every detail that helped to reward our work and offer us the life we have, not just in material things, but in the affection and warmth of our family.

But I know that when it comes to my kids this becomes a little harder because we have worked so hard to give them so much, and in the process, I fear, we have made it hard for them to think of others sometimes.

This is why it is so important for us to instill in them the joy of giving back, not just during the holidays, but always. Not just in material things and money, but in kindness and friendship.

I am raising my family in a culture that, for the most part, tends to look out for themselves. The sense of community and service is dwindling, decreasing under the guise that we all need to look out for ourselves now as we are all experiencing such hard times.

One lesson I learned from poverty is that when in it I experienced a stronger sense of community, a more sincere form of friendship, and through the support of our neighbors, family, and friends, I never, as a child, experienced what it was to be hungry. I didn’t eat the best food. I slept on floors and wore old clothes, but I never remember being sad, lonely, unloved, or hungry. We all looked out for each other, gave to each other, supported each other in kindness.#givingtuesday_girlgonetravel


It is based on this memory that I try to teach my own children, who have so much more than I did at their age, to approach the world and be aware of others. Because as great as it feels to receive, it is nothing in comparison to the joy brought about by giving. And those who justify their many reasons for not giving back will never be as fulfilled as those who understand the importance of community, service, and charity.

I am proud of my boys for once again taking advantage of an opportunity to give back to others. We partnered with Mommy Nearest to help promote the toy and clothing drive hosted at the 92nd St. Y and then we participated in taking part.


My boys understand that the role of Santa Clause (which is our family’s tradition) is to give to others, and they were more than happy to take part in it and took great joy in imagining the happiness their gift donation would bring to another child.

It was a high-energy afternoon, full of smiles and bursting with the joy of giving from families all across NYC. I’m so glad my kids got to be a part of it and I hope that you get a chance to get out there and give back too!

Thank you to Mommy Nearest (check out their awesome app!), 92nd St. Y, and the various Giggle locations that hosted this fab event!


This post is in partnership with Mommy Nearest.



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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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