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Nicole Phillips, Published January 20 2012

Phillips: Girl grasps special joys of giving

It’s that time of year. The toys that were brand new just a few weeks ago are quickly being forgotten.

The favorites may find a special spot on the shelf, but the rest are stuffed under the bed or shoved into an already too-full closet of goodies.

Some would say my children are spoiled. I happen to believe that spoiled is an attitude of ungratefulness, not an accounting of the amount of things you have accumulated.

But at some point, enough is enough. So what should we parents do with that accumulation of Christmas wealth?

One reader, Kari, has come up with a great way to release the closet of its clutter and at the same time, teach her daughter that kindness matters.

“A couple of weeks ago I asked my 11-year-old daughter to go clean her room. I also asked her to pull out one of her toys that she could give away.

“We donate often to the YWCA Women’s Shelter. I told her that it was a tradition growing up in my household that all of us kids were to pull out a toy – in good repair, that we could give away to someone less fortunate or in need.

“I noticed it was taking her longer than usual, so I checked in on my daughter and found she had taken all of her baby dolls, clothes, accessories, etc. and had them in the middle of her floor.

“I inquired as to what she was up to – she explained that she doesn’t play with them anymore so she would give them all away. I asked her if she thought she’d want to keep one – as a keepsake. She thought that would be a good idea.

“A little later, she was bringing out all of her Pretty Pony items and her over-large stuffed animals. Then she started in on the Barbie Doll stuff. I put the brakes on the Barbies and told her that at age 11 she may want to wait a year or so on that.

“Anyway, we had several bags of items, and before I loaded it all up I gave her a final chance to back out – ‘Are you sure you want to donate all these things? Once their gone, that’s it.’

“Her comment back to me? ‘Oh Mom, I just know these toys will be loved.’

“I gave her a big hug and told her that’s what it’s all about right there. She got a very nice thank-you note from the shelter a week later to remind her of her generous spirit. I am proud to have a daughter who sees the importance in giving.”

I remember as a kid, and honestly now as an adult, too, that it is fun to “get.” But when we remember that it’s fun for everyone to get something, even those who cannot afford it, it makes giving that much more special.

Continue to share your stories of kindness with me at nphillips15@hotmail.com or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.