To the Editor:
Some will see this letter on Friday, Jan. 5, often known as Twelfth Night. Comments on the carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” will have to wait, but it brings us to Three Kings Day, Jan. 6. There is the tradition of the kings/magi bringing gifts to the baby Jesus; the exchange of gifts is then not on the 24th. It is thus not too late to comment on giving in three different ways.
First, on the large scale, the MacArthur Foundation, of Chicago, announced a $100 million grant to Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee to educate young children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Middle East. Said MacArthur President Julia Stascch, “We are compelled to respond to the urgent Syrian refugee crisis by supporting what will be the largest early childhood intervention program ever created in a humanitarian setting. The longer-term goal is to change the system of humanitarian aid to focus more on helping to ensure the future of young children through education.”
The program will use technology through television, mobile phones – but also with home visits (what a challenge) and child development centers. The announcement concluded, “These children are, arguably, the world’s most vulnerable and by improving their lives we create a more stable and secure world for us all.”
Together with other large-scale foundation grants – such as the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation, which works on health problems on a global scale – we see great work being done by the private sector and supplementing that being done by governments. Permit me the analogy of one king bringing the work of private foundations, another that of governmental programs, but, now the third king with the gift of small individual giving, which is just as important.
Locally, we saw this in the Franklin Mall project, to name but one. These one-on-one gifts give real strength to the fabric of our community. It may be a bowl of soup to a neighbor, or plate of cookies or help clearing the sidewalk, but it is in the spirit of a gift to the lowly child in the manger.
Rev. Bob Dell