Catholic Charities : Diocese of Des Moines
Dimensions of gift giving: Puppies, guitars, trees and HOPE
December 21, 2011

By Ken Bresnan, Parish Outreach Liaison for Catholic Charities Des Moines, Iowa

Gifts are a marvelous manifestation of the love that you have for someone. I can’t help but think of the utter love and joy that my wife, Rita, and I felt as we picked out toys for our young children. It didn’t matter what they were, they loved them. Rita and I loved watching them on Christmas morning. That joy has never diminished but it does mutate or change as the kids grow or as your relationship's change. As teenagers, they were never happier than the year that I was recovering from my first brush with mortality, the discovery of a dead gall bladder and an extensive same day operation. Close to Christmas, Rita presented the list of prospective presents that the kids had on their wish lists (wish lists predicated on Bill Gates being their father). I looked once and said OK. Rita is still in shock. The ticket to Mexico, the base guitar, the new puppy, and the one I can’t remember, brought joy to their faces and warmth to my heart. But times do change and children grow.

And in some cases we reach another dimension of gift giving. When I was 16, I was struggling over what to get my father for Christmas. He had been and was the president of the Champaign Illinois Park District and he loved that organization. I called the park superintendent and arranged to plant a new tree in his honor. And to this day even though he has been gone for a number of years, I know that was his favorite present. When he was retired he use to walk in that park and point out to whomever was with him, HIS tree.

I mention this as a prelude to a request that I will make of you. You will have a relationship with someone or more than one that is based on joint deep love of all of God’s children. Possibly they might most enjoy knowing that you gave something in their name. At Catholic Charities here in Des Moines, our program for this type of giving is called, the “Gift of Hope” program. Gifts of 25 dollars on up are recognized by a Gift of Hope Christmas Card. Please stop and think for a moment which relative or friend would be truly grateful to know that you shared their love of “others” this time of year.

I haven’t seen that tree that I dedicated to Dad in many years and I don’t even know if it is still standing, but I do know that the thought behind it and the love it generated will last forever.


 More information about giving a gift to Catholic Charities in a loved one's name this Christmas is available by clicking here. Save to


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