The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Updated: Jun 14
I'm Anya - founder of T.N.G.C.U. In this post, I share my thoughts on the values of giving back, some insight into where my passion for charity work started, and gives some advice to those who want to start giving back to their communities as well.
I first started giving back to the community when I was 4 years old.
At that age, my mom felt I was old enough to travel with her to Brooklyn, NY, where she worked as the marketing director for Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center. In the days leading up to our trip, we packed dozens of gift bags filled with socks for over 30 children (ages 2 months to 18 years old). On Christmas Eve, we hopped on the subway and traveled to the hospital to surprise the kids in the long-term care pediatric unit with Christmas gifts.
Many of the children that live there are severely disabled. Most suffer from cognitive and neurological disorders and are permanent residents of the hospital. Some of them go to school, some don’t. As a young girl, I didn't many people with disabilities, but I had always been taught that it is important to share and help others, and always loved making people smile. With that being said, my life absolutely changed when I handed
that first Christmas present to a little boy in a wheelchair for the first time. His face lit up and I remember not even being able to describe how that made me feel. It was then that, at 5 years old, I made it my mission to not only return to the hospital every Christmas with new gifts for those children, but to continue finding ways to give back to people in need.
After our first year of giving, my mother and I vowed to stay consistent with our holiday gift giving efforts. Every year we would fundraise for the holiday season and prepare to return to the hospital. We gained sponsorships from countless Kingsbrook staff members including the former CEO, Dr. Linda Bradey, the development director, and many compliance officers. One year, two local Senators even joined us in contribution to the hospital by personally transporting toys and other goodies to the hospital for the many kids in the long-term care unit. People not only donated money to our efforts, but items as well. We've received socks, stuffed animals, jackets, blankets, hats, scarves, gloves, and underwear for our residential patient community.
I have been running my holiday charity efforts at Kingsbrook for over 10 years now, and over the years the staff and residents there have become like family to me and my family.
It is always one of my favorite times of year because I get to not only celebrate the end of another year with our Kingsbrook family, but i get to spread positivity, share stories with the absolutely amazing patients of Kingsbrook's long-term care unit, and paint smiles on so many young people's faces.
This year, I also began visiting Sierra House; a non-profit organization and group home committed to improving the lives of low income families and homeless young adults through housing, education, and community services. They massively contribute to the long-term stability of our community. Along with my annual travels to Brooklyn every year for my gift giving charity, I found myself wanting to find a place in my own community to give back to. When I came across Sierra House and was eager to contribute in any way I could.
It was quite a surreal experience, arriving at Sierra House for the first time. The women and children living there were so welcoming and had amazing spirits.
One little girl living in the home could not wait to show me around. She told me hilarious stories about who broke which doors, who's kids slept in which room, and who was frenemies with whom. As a young woman of color, seeing such a supportive community of black women supporting one another was really inspiring. Giving gifts to those young girls felt almost like giving a gift to a friend. I saw so much of myself through them, their strength, and their perseverance, and they inspired me to be even more passionate about giving back to my community.
The Importance of Giving Back
Giving is so important to me, because I feel that...
"achieving our own success means nothing if we do not use it to help others do the same."
The world is an extremely brutal and selfish place, and in order to overcome that and be
our best selves, we must learn to be selfless individuals. We have to realize how fortunate we are and take advantage of it by sharing it with those who are less fortunate. At the end of the day, all of us could have been born into a completely different set of circumstances. And I know if I was struggling, I would pray that someone would be generous enough to help me.
Can I Give Back to my Community?
There are tons of way that one could give back to their community, and many of them are way easier than most people think! If you're just starting out, look into donating money, resources, or clothing to local hospitals, shelters, and/or food pantries in your area. You can also call and ask what type of volunteer programs they may offer and get involved with those. These organizations always have a great need for volunteers and are often welcoming to those who are willing to give back to their efforts.
You can also opt. to fundraise for causes through doing fun activities with your friends like hold bake sales, selling candy to your classmates, or planning fundraiser events at your school, local movie theaters, town squares, or even local parks.
Donate the proceeds to a cause or charity that you feel passionate about to. Your efforts will not only inspire you to give more often, but it can also encourage your family, friends, and members of your community to do the same.
Giving Through TNGCU
TNGCU encourages you to give as much as you can this coming New Year. For creative ways to give back to your community, follow us on Instagram @thenextgencu (https://www.instagram.com/thenextgencu/) and subscribe to become a member of our initiative. You can also search our hashtag #TNGCUgivers. We are always posting creative ways to give back and organize multiple charity efforts through out the year that we advertise on our social media and this website. Who knows, you might make it to one one them. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone, and remember to let the good vibes roll right into 2019.