Monthly Archives: December 2010

We All Need Love

By Rana DiOrio, Founder, Little Pickle Press
This month at Little Pickle Press we explored the difference between needs and wants and helping our children to understand the difference. We tell our children that they need food, shelter, and love. Everything else represents things they want.
Of the three things we need, love is the only one that is free. As we reflect upon the year that has past and contemplate the one before us, let us remember that love is the greatest gift we have­­­. And it is so easily given and received.
I was raised Catholic. Almost nothing in our home would indicate that with the exception of a leather- bound bible on the bookshelves of my office that a client of mine gave me long ago and a framed scripture passage that my mom gave me to hang in my first apartment. I have found a place for the beautiful message inked in calligraphy in each place that I have lived, and now it resides in the bedroom of our girls. It is 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, which reads in part:
Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous, selfish, or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil but is happy with truth. Love never gives up; its faith, hope, and patience never fail. Love is eternal . . . .
If scripture doesn’t resonate with you, then consider the lyrics of Greatest Love Of All, an inspirational song written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed and performed first by George Benson and later, Whitney Houston:
I believe the children are our future.
Teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside.
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.
Alternatively, there is the beautiful song written by Stephen Dorff with lyrics by Linda Thompson for Celine Dion––Miracle:
There is nothing you could ever do
To make me stop loving you.
And every breath I take
Is always for your sake.
You sleep inside my dreams
And know for sure––
Who could ever love you more?
Or this quote by Frank A. Clark that gets right to the point:
A baby is born with a need to be loved––and never outgrows it.
So as we enter the new year, please be liberal with your love. Love the children in your life and allow them to love you. Show children how to love by loving first yourself and then others. I can’t think of a better New Year’s resolution.
From all of us at Little Pickle Press to all of you, we hope that your 2011 is full of happiness, health, prosperity, and above all else, love.

We All Need Love

By Rana DiOrio, Founder, Little Pickle Press
This month at Little Pickle Press we explored the difference between needs and wants and helping our children to understand the difference. We tell our children that they need food, shelter, and love. Everything else represents things they want.
Of the three things we need, love is the only one that is free. As we reflect upon the year that has past and contemplate the one before us, let us remember that love is the greatest gift we have­­­. And it is so easily given and received.
I was raised Catholic. Almost nothing in our home would indicate that with the exception of a leather- bound bible on the bookshelves of my office that a client of mine gave me long ago and a framed scripture passage that my mom gave me to hang in my first apartment. I have found a place for the beautiful message inked in calligraphy in each place that I have lived, and now it resides in the bedroom of our girls. It is 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, which reads in part:
Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous, selfish, or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil but is happy with truth. Love never gives up; its faith, hope, and patience never fail. Love is eternal . . . .
If scripture doesn’t resonate with you, then consider the lyrics of Greatest Love Of All, an inspirational song written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed and performed first by George Benson and later, Whitney Houston:
I believe the children are our future.
Teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside.
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.
Alternatively, there is the beautiful song written by Stephen Dorff with lyrics by Linda Thompson for Celine Dion––Miracle:
There is nothing you could ever do
To make me stop loving you.
And every breath I take
Is always for your sake.
You sleep inside my dreams
And know for sure––
Who could ever love you more?
Or this quote by Frank A. Clark that gets right to the point:
A baby is born with a need to be loved––and never outgrows it.
So as we enter the new year, please be liberal with your love. Love the children in your life and allow them to love you. Show children how to love by loving first yourself and then others. I can’t think of a better New Year’s resolution.
From all of us at Little Pickle Press to all of you, we hope that your 2011 is full of happiness, health, prosperity, and above all else, love.

Resolved!

By Dani Greer

Every year-end we get the chance to make positive resolutions for the upcoming year. Most of us at least give this a passing thought, and maybe even some serious attempts to change something in our lives and personalities for the better. Here are some of the top New Year’s resolutions:

  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Become more physically fit
  • Lose weight
  • Get out of debt
  • Get organized
  • Learn something new

Those are just a few of the standard resolutions most people claim.

I’ve reached a point in my life in which my resolutions are a bit different. My goal for a few years now has been to simplify my life and to own less. This automatically makes my life easier to manage. Because I’ve resolved to buy less, that goes hand-in-hand with less debt. As I simplify and accumulate less, I also free up time to do the things I love. That includes spending time with the people I care about the most, and who value me for who I am as a person, not by artificial standards of success.

Diet and exercise are a regular focus just to maintain well-being and vigor as I grow older. Sometimes I need to remind myself to get off the computer to do it. So that’s a stronger focus this year – less computer time and more time in the outdoors! I always commit to learning something new, and this year it might be guitar lessons one last time, before my hands are too weak and my hearing is totally gone! Sometimes changes in our very beings dictate what we wish to do in the immediate future.

What about you? Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, share some with us. If not, why?

Resolved!

By Dani Greer

Every year-end we get the chance to make positive resolutions for the upcoming year. Most of us at least give this a passing thought, and maybe even some serious attempts to change something in our lives and personalities for the better. Here are some of the top New Year’s resolutions:

  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Become more physically fit
  • Lose weight
  • Get out of debt
  • Get organized
  • Learn something new

Those are just a few of the standard resolutions most people claim.

I’ve reached a point in my life in which my resolutions are a bit different. My goal for a few years now has been to simplify my life and to own less. This automatically makes my life easier to manage. Because I’ve resolved to buy less, that goes hand-in-hand with less debt. As I simplify and accumulate less, I also free up time to do the things I love. That includes spending time with the people I care about the most, and who value me for who I am as a person, not by artificial standards of success.

Diet and exercise are a regular focus just to maintain well-being and vigor as I grow older. Sometimes I need to remind myself to get off the computer to do it. So that’s a stronger focus this year – less computer time and more time in the outdoors! I always commit to learning something new, and this year it might be guitar lessons one last time, before my hands are too weak and my hearing is totally gone! Sometimes changes in our very beings dictate what we wish to do in the immediate future.

What about you? Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, share some with us. If not, why?

The Last Week of the Year

By Dani Greer

It’s the last week of the year – that odd time between the busy Christmas days and yet another celebration on New Year’s Eve. If you’re like me, you might be looking at the unfinished business from the old year, and thinking about all the things to come in the new.

In my family, it was tradition to spend the week clearing out the old. Some of you may have grown up with Boxing Day, when clothing and other stuff was sorted and given to the needy. That’s an old English tradition. My mother mostly had us sorting, putting away, and getting everything spiffied up into sparkling near-perfection. German superstition said that anything left languishing would follow us into the new year, so all laundry, leftovers, and unfinished filing had to be handled that last week or else, and it must be done before New Year’s Day! Be sure the larder is full or you’ll have lack all the next year, too!

What about you? Are there any year-end traditions you follow to start off on the right foot in the new year? What about superstitions and fortuitous good luck charms? Do you always eat black-eyed peas or sauerkraut for good luck? What’s the craziest tradition you’ve heard of? Share with us your memories, thoughts, and ideas.

The Last Week of the Year

By Dani Greer

It’s the last week of the year – that odd time between the busy Christmas days and yet another celebration on New Year’s Eve. If you’re like me, you might be looking at the unfinished business from the old year, and thinking about all the things to come in the new.

In my family, it was tradition to spend the week clearing out the old. Some of you may have grown up with Boxing Day, when clothing and other stuff was sorted and given to the needy. That’s an old English tradition. My mother mostly had us sorting, putting away, and getting everything spiffied up into sparkling near-perfection. German superstition said that anything left languishing would follow us into the new year, so all laundry, leftovers, and unfinished filing had to be handled that last week or else, and it must be done before New Year’s Day! Be sure the larder is full or you’ll have lack all the next year, too!

What about you? Are there any year-end traditions you follow to start off on the right foot in the new year? What about superstitions and fortuitous good luck charms? Do you always eat black-eyed peas or sauerkraut for good luck? What’s the craziest tradition you’ve heard of? Share with us your memories, thoughts, and ideas.

Christmas With Grace

By Rana DiOrio, Founder, Little Pickle Press

Christmas was always magical in my home. My parents went all out for us. We usually had our tree and stockings, handmade by my mom, up the weekend after Thanksgiving. My parents would give an astonishingly fabulous party the Saturday night before Christmas every year. They each had demanding professional jobs yet they found the time to host this gala, for which they prepared everything themselves, each season to celebrate with friends.
Then came Christmas Eve—the best night of the whole year! We hosted many members of my Italian family for a sit-down, 5-course feast. Although it would have been a lot easier to cut corners, we never served the meal buffet style, and we always used our finest china, crystal, and sterling, which had to be washed by hand.
The house always looked amazing. My mom’s brother, Uncle Frank, owned Towne House Flowers , a supportive LPP customer, and he helped us to decorate the house with panache—beautiful festoons over each fireplace, lush garlands wrapped around the handrails, stunning wreaths on each door, poinsettias everywhere, and breathtaking flower arrangements for each table.
We had two long tables, one for the adults in the dining room and one for the “kids” in the adjacent “dark paneled room.” My brother and I were at the time the youngest of the DiOrio tribe, so the “kids” were young adults. Our table was always the most fun. Before we served the first course, my Dad would call on one of the cousins to say grace. Some years, he would give the chosen person advance notice so they would have time to think about their message and write it down. Other years, he would just call them out, and put them on the spot to say grace, which the aunts especially would always critique. In either case, the grace giver would stand between the two rooms before all 40 or so of us and bless our family, our meal and those who prepared it, and remember those who were less fortunate. I am going to try this with our oldest, Ryan Francesca, who will turn 7 on Christmas Day. We will only be 15 or so, and I will give her some notice so the experience won’t be terrifying!
After the five courses, which included the traditional feast of the seven fishes, the massive clean-up commenced. As my family is a trifle patriarchal, my mom, my Auntie Dolores, my cousins Karen and Lisa, and I would clear and wash everything (did I mention by hand?). My Auntie Dolores frowned upon throwing “good wine” away, so she would polish off any that remained in the cleared glasses. That is, until she would inevitably break something while washing at the sink, at which point I would finish the job, and Auntie would take a rest and drink some decaf.
Then, at 10:00 pm, my mom and I would leave for church. We sang in the choir and needed to attend a rehearsal before midnight mass. My dad and brother, our grandparents, and sometimes a few of our other relatives would join us for mass. To this day, I don’t know how we managed to conjure the energy year after year. It must be attributable to the miracle and grace of Christmas.
From all of us at Little Pickle Press to all of you, have an especially wonderful and meaningful holiday season.

Christmas With Grace

By Rana DiOrio, Founder, Little Pickle Press

Christmas was always magical in my home. My parents went all out for us. We usually had our tree and stockings, handmade by my mom, up the weekend after Thanksgiving. My parents would give an astonishingly fabulous party the Saturday night before Christmas every year. They each had demanding professional jobs yet they found the time to host this gala, for which they prepared everything themselves, each season to celebrate with friends.
Then came Christmas Eve—the best night of the whole year! We hosted many members of my Italian family for a sit-down, 5-course feast. Although it would have been a lot easier to cut corners, we never served the meal buffet style, and we always used our finest china, crystal, and sterling, which had to be washed by hand.
The house always looked amazing. My mom’s brother, Uncle Frank, owned Towne House Flowers , a supportive LPP customer, and he helped us to decorate the house with panache—beautiful festoons over each fireplace, lush garlands wrapped around the handrails, stunning wreaths on each door, poinsettias everywhere, and breathtaking flower arrangements for each table.
We had two long tables, one for the adults in the dining room and one for the “kids” in the adjacent “dark paneled room.” My brother and I were at the time the youngest of the DiOrio tribe, so the “kids” were young adults. Our table was always the most fun. Before we served the first course, my Dad would call on one of the cousins to say grace. Some years, he would give the chosen person advance notice so they would have time to think about their message and write it down. Other years, he would just call them out, and put them on the spot to say grace, which the aunts especially would always critique. In either case, the grace giver would stand between the two rooms before all 40 or so of us and bless our family, our meal and those who prepared it, and remember those who were less fortunate. I am going to try this with our oldest, Ryan Francesca, who will turn 7 on Christmas Day. We will only be 15 or so, and I will give her some notice so the experience won’t be terrifying!
After the five courses, which included the traditional feast of the seven fishes, the massive clean-up commenced. As my family is a trifle patriarchal, my mom, my Auntie Dolores, my cousins Karen and Lisa, and I would clear and wash everything (did I mention by hand?). My Auntie Dolores frowned upon throwing “good wine” away, so she would polish off any that remained in the cleared glasses. That is, until she would inevitably break something while washing at the sink, at which point I would finish the job, and Auntie would take a rest and drink some decaf.
Then, at 10:00 pm, my mom and I would leave for church. We sang in the choir and needed to attend a rehearsal before midnight mass. My dad and brother, our grandparents, and sometimes a few of our other relatives would join us for mass. To this day, I don’t know how we managed to conjure the energy year after year. It must be attributable to the miracle and grace of Christmas.
From all of us at Little Pickle Press to all of you, have an especially wonderful and meaningful holiday season.

Christmas Recipes From My Childhood

By Rana DiOrio, Founder, Little Pickle Press

Christmastime for me always involved a lot of cooking with my mother and grandmother. I loved to “help” them cook. My mom had a special stool for me that we used so I could peer into the various bowls and, of course, my own apron, which made me official.

I wanted to share with you two of the recipes we made together. As for the first one, we made countless cranberry nut breads each holiday season. We gave them to the postman (now postal delivery person), the milkman (now the rarely seen milk delivery person), the garbage man (now the trash collector and recycle technician), our school teachers, our piano instructor, our choral director, etc. You get the picture. Everyone received one of these treasures:

Cranberry Nut Bread

2 c               all purpose flour
1 c               granulated sugar
1 1/2 t          double acting baking powder
1/2 t             baking soda
1 t                salt
1/4 c            butter
3/4 c           orange juice
1 T              grated orange rind
1                 egg well beaten
1/2 c           chopped walnuts
2 c              fresh chopped cranberries

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles course cornmeal. Separately, combine orange juice, grated orange rind, and egg. Add wet ingredients to dry ones, mixing just enough to dampen. Fold in nuts and cranberries. Pour into greased loaf pan (9” x 5” x 3”). Bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 55 minutes. Test with a toothpick. If dry after inserted, it is done.


Then, there were the beloved butterballs! We would make these for the class parties, for my parents’ annual holiday party, and to just have around to share with egg nog for whomever stopped in during the festive season. With this much butter and sugar how could they not be amazing!?

Snowball Cookies (aka Butterballs)

½ c              butter
½ c              Crisco or other shortening
1 t               vanilla
1 c               chopped walnuts
2 c               flour
6 T              powdered sugar, plus additional powdered sugar for the topping

Cream butter and shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Blend in flour and nuts. Roll into small balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake in a pre-heated 325-degree oven from 10 to 20 minutes (depending on how big you made the balls). Roll in powdered sugar while warm and sift another coat of powdered sugar onto the cookies when cool.

Consider making one of these special holiday recipes with your little pickles, and by all means tell us how it went!

Christmas Recipes From My Childhood

By Rana DiOrio, Founder, Little Pickle Press

Christmastime for me always involved a lot of cooking with my mother and grandmother. I loved to “help” them cook. My mom had a special stool for me that we used so I could peer into the various bowls and, of course, my own apron, which made me official.

I wanted to share with you two of the recipes we made together. As for the first one, we made countless cranberry nut breads each holiday season. We gave them to the postman (now postal delivery person), the milkman (now the rarely seen milk delivery person), the garbage man (now the trash collector and recycle technician), our school teachers, our piano instructor, our choral director, etc. You get the picture. Everyone received one of these treasures:

Cranberry Nut Bread

2 c               all purpose flour
1 c               granulated sugar
1 1/2 t          double acting baking powder
1/2 t             baking soda
1 t                salt
1/4 c            butter
3/4 c           orange juice
1 T              grated orange rind
1                 egg well beaten
1/2 c           chopped walnuts
2 c              fresh chopped cranberries

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles course cornmeal. Separately, combine orange juice, grated orange rind, and egg. Add wet ingredients to dry ones, mixing just enough to dampen. Fold in nuts and cranberries. Pour into greased loaf pan (9” x 5” x 3”). Bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 55 minutes. Test with a toothpick. If dry after inserted, it is done.


Then, there were the beloved butterballs! We would make these for the class parties, for my parents’ annual holiday party, and to just have around to share with egg nog for whomever stopped in during the festive season. With this much butter and sugar how could they not be amazing!?

Snowball Cookies (aka Butterballs)

½ c              butter
½ c              Crisco or other shortening
1 t               vanilla
1 c               chopped walnuts
2 c               flour
6 T              powdered sugar, plus additional powdered sugar for the topping

Cream butter and shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Blend in flour and nuts. Roll into small balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake in a pre-heated 325-degree oven from 10 to 20 minutes (depending on how big you made the balls). Roll in powdered sugar while warm and sift another coat of powdered sugar onto the cookies when cool.

Consider making one of these special holiday recipes with your little pickles, and by all means tell us how it went!

Community Food Pantries

By Dani Greer

‘Tis the season to be jolly. To a large portion of America, that means participating in a month of decorating, buying, and probably too much eating. At least all the holiday advertising will have you believe that. The reality, however, can be a bit more grim especially in times of economic downturn. There isn’t a community nationwide that isn’t feeling the pinch and community food pantries are suffering the added pressures of feeding more families, many of them decidedly of the middle class.

In my small town, philanthropy is often low-key. Citizens tend to quietly help each other in times of challenge, including the feeding of those who cannot feed themselves. It isn’t unusual for someone to write a check to the local grocery store requesting an anonymous gift card for a neighbor in need. Churches also help, and recently a local denomination got a donated storefront for their own community pantry. Donations of food and money come not only from the sponsoring church, but from individual contributors and anyone is welcome to receive help, no questions asked. There is also an unspoken understanding that the objective is to feed the body first. If anyone wants food for the soul, it’s not obligatory, but is available. This unqualified giving is perhaps the biggest gift they offer. No one is made to feel uncomfortable for any reason.

Major cities, like my husband’s home town, often have larger food pantries that are tied into national networks, and receive government as well as private grant funding. Even they are strapped this year. Cities with nearby military bases feel the pinch even more, for despite a steady paycheck, families with deployed breadwinners sometimes just can’t make ends meet from month to month. This is why Hand Up Youth Food Pantry in San Diego is in the running for a Pepsi Refresh Project grant of $250,000. Keep this in mind when you donate to your local food pantry – you just might be helping a military family in need. It’s not a connection most of us make, but it’s a serious reality. Support Our Troops takes on a whole new meaning.

Think also of how the face of hunger differs from country to country. The past two days we’ve compared giving in Spain and the USA. Here is a video of a chef in India who changed his focus about feeding people and is now helping those in need rather than wealthy patrons in a prestigious hotel. It’s a very moving story presented by CNN: Feeding the Hungry, Nourishing the Soul. Please watch it. Ultimately, it’s more than just about food for the stomach. In this season of giving, let us think about feeding souls, too, and that means the giving of love.

How are you demonstrating the spirit of the season? Do you donate to your community food pantry? Quietly and personally share with someone in need? Tell us how you put love into action.

Community Food Pantries

By Dani Greer

‘Tis the season to be jolly. To a large portion of America, that means participating in a month of decorating, buying, and probably too much eating. At least all the holiday advertising will have you believe that. The reality, however, can be a bit more grim especially in times of economic downturn. There isn’t a community nationwide that isn’t feeling the pinch and community food pantries are suffering the added pressures of feeding more families, many of them decidedly of the middle class.

In my small town, philanthropy is often low-key. Citizens tend to quietly help each other in times of challenge, including the feeding of those who cannot feed themselves. It isn’t unusual for someone to write a check to the local grocery store requesting an anonymous gift card for a neighbor in need. Churches also help, and recently a local denomination got a donated storefront for their own community pantry. Donations of food and money come not only from the sponsoring church, but from individual contributors and anyone is welcome to receive help, no questions asked. There is also an unspoken understanding that the objective is to feed the body first. If anyone wants food for the soul, it’s not obligatory, but is available. This unqualified giving is perhaps the biggest gift they offer. No one is made to feel uncomfortable for any reason.

Major cities, like my husband’s home town, often have larger food pantries that are tied into national networks, and receive government as well as private grant funding. Even they are strapped this year. Cities with nearby military bases feel the pinch even more, for despite a steady paycheck, families with deployed breadwinners sometimes just can’t make ends meet from month to month. This is why Hand Up Youth Food Pantry in San Diego is in the running for a Pepsi Refresh Project grant of $250,000. Keep this in mind when you donate to your local food pantry – you just might be helping a military family in need. It’s not a connection most of us make, but it’s a serious reality. Support Our Troops takes on a whole new meaning.

Think also of how the face of hunger differs from country to country. The past two days we’ve compared giving in Spain and the USA. Here is a video of a chef in India who changed his focus about feeding people and is now helping those in need rather than wealthy patrons in a prestigious hotel. It’s a very moving story presented by CNN: Feeding the Hungry, Nourishing the Soul. Please watch it. Ultimately, it’s more than just about food for the stomach. In this season of giving, let us think about feeding souls, too, and that means the giving of love.

How are you demonstrating the spirit of the season? Do you donate to your community food pantry? Quietly and personally share with someone in need? Tell us how you put love into action.

Giving is Giving Part 2

By Karen Friedman
Yesterday, we discussed some of the philanthropic philosophical differences between America and Spain. Today we share some more observations.
A major entity here is the socialist government.  It is a strong source of social support with its powerful public health system, pension plans, and local public sports-cultural facilities.  In Spain, we don’t see the various committees at museums and schools to organize events like we do so often in the USA. Here, government funding reaches far into the local communities and offers help to people.  City programs for recycling are becoming ever more present and children are taught in school the importance of helping the environment. There are major subsidies for cultural centers, public sports facilities, schools, and medical centers.
Finally, the family has a tremendous influence on the society here. In the past, families were often very numerous, though now the average family is just 3-4 people.  In Spain, the family bonds are strong and people tend to live near their family. So many times, the concept of giving back is actually demonstrated in a “normal” manner of taking care of your family – caring for your grandparents or disabled family member, passing on used items to siblings or cousins, collecting funds among family members to help another family member, and other more personal and direct acts of giving.  

Cortijo Park in Marbella, Spain

These are cultural differences in giving back.  However this is changing, slowly.  Religion is diversified and devotion to the Catholic church has changed.  Today, Spain is a diverse, multi-cultural society including millions of immigrants who do not have their own family to rely upon.   Also nowadays career paths often involve transferring to another city leaving behind the traditional support of family.   
The government role is critical to facilitate help getting to the people and places it is needed. People are aware of this and are increasingly opting to make a small donation with their tax returns. Also, many more non-profit organizations operate here than in decades past, trying to satisfy the growing, larger needs of the society. There are also many non-profits that focus internationally yet are funded mostly by Spaniards.  
A main difference with the USA is that here the “giving back” comes more from the heart in more personal arenas rather than a larger desire to give back to society or from a well-orchestrated philanthropic effort. One opportunity for growth here is to instill in younger generations that we all can give back personally and it requires our time and effort.  It is needed. And it matters.

The Spaniards have always given back and are empathetic people.  They give generously from their heart.  The culture here breathes a genuine compassion for others.  The power of giving back has many faces. 
Do you have experiences in foreign countries regarding philanthropy? How does it differ or compare with giving in the USA? Please leave us a comment!

Giving is Giving Part 2

By Karen Friedman
Yesterday, we discussed some of the philanthropic philosophical differences between America and Spain. Today we share some more observations.
A major entity here is the socialist government.  It is a strong source of social support with its powerful public health system, pension plans, and local public sports-cultural facilities.  In Spain, we don’t see the various committees at museums and schools to organize events like we do so often in the USA. Here, government funding reaches far into the local communities and offers help to people.  City programs for recycling are becoming ever more present and children are taught in school the importance of helping the environment. There are major subsidies for cultural centers, public sports facilities, schools, and medical centers.
Finally, the family has a tremendous influence on the society here. In the past, families were often very numerous, though now the average family is just 3-4 people.  In Spain, the family bonds are strong and people tend to live near their family. So many times, the concept of giving back is actually demonstrated in a “normal” manner of taking care of your family – caring for your grandparents or disabled family member, passing on used items to siblings or cousins, collecting funds among family members to help another family member, and other more personal and direct acts of giving.  

Cortijo Park in Marbella, Spain

These are cultural differences in giving back.  However this is changing, slowly.  Religion is diversified and devotion to the Catholic church has changed.  Today, Spain is a diverse, multi-cultural society including millions of immigrants who do not have their own family to rely upon.   Also nowadays career paths often involve transferring to another city leaving behind the traditional support of family.   
The government role is critical to facilitate help getting to the people and places it is needed. People are aware of this and are increasingly opting to make a small donation with their tax returns. Also, many more non-profit organizations operate here than in decades past, trying to satisfy the growing, larger needs of the society. There are also many non-profits that focus internationally yet are funded mostly by Spaniards.  
A main difference with the USA is that here the “giving back” comes more from the heart in more personal arenas rather than a larger desire to give back to society or from a well-orchestrated philanthropic effort. One opportunity for growth here is to instill in younger generations that we all can give back personally and it requires our time and effort.  It is needed. And it matters.

The Spaniards have always given back and are empathetic people.  They give generously from their heart.  The culture here breathes a genuine compassion for others.  The power of giving back has many faces. 
Do you have experiences in foreign countries regarding philanthropy? How does it differ or compare with giving in the USA? Please leave us a comment!

Giving Is Giving Part 1


By Karen Friedman

When we give back to others, donate to the needy, or help the planet, it is all a form of giving.  This is a simple concept, and it is universal, yet the reality of giving back differs by culture.  In the USA, there is a tremendous sense of giving back.  We see it in the schools, churches and synagogues, and the multitude of non-profit organizations. Our children understand the words “volunteer” or “fundraiser” from a very young age.  It is part of our American culture to help others, to give back.  The fabric of our society is weaved with everything from donations to fundraisers to volunteering to mentoring to Earth Day to benefit concerts to matching donation programs to social responsibility for businesses.

Exploring other places on our planet, we can see that this is not the reality everywhere else.  Looking at just one country – Spain – where I have been living for the past 11 years, the concept of giving back is strong yet not the same as our American version.  People certainly care and help and give back, yet in a different manner and with a different motivation.  There is a genuine, heartfelt concern for others.  

 In the past, most “help” has come from the government or the church or often from your own family.  In this predominantly Catholic country, the church has been a major conduit for help and donations.  Spaniards direct their donations to the local church that then distributes accordingly. Spaniards are generous in their giving to the church and many people volunteer to facilitate the “help”.  Also, the church subsidizes many Catholic schools here.  The schools offer a limited education of giving back with children, such as visiting nearby geriatric centers or hospitals. Unfortunately, outside of school, there is not a strong culture for young people and children to participate in these efforts.  Adults certainly give back with used clothes donations, volunteering in the soup kitchens, visits to local geriatric centers, and in many more ways.

There are other factors at play in this European country, and we’ll examine them further tomorrow.  Do you have an experience of sharing and giving you would like to mention?  Perhaps through your church or a a nursing home? Leave us a comment.

Giving Is Giving Part 1


By Karen Friedman

When we give back to others, donate to the needy, or help the planet, it is all a form of giving.  This is a simple concept, and it is universal, yet the reality of giving back differs by culture.  In the USA, there is a tremendous sense of giving back.  We see it in the schools, churches and synagogues, and the multitude of non-profit organizations. Our children understand the words “volunteer” or “fundraiser” from a very young age.  It is part of our American culture to help others, to give back.  The fabric of our society is weaved with everything from donations to fundraisers to volunteering to mentoring to Earth Day to benefit concerts to matching donation programs to social responsibility for businesses.

Exploring other places on our planet, we can see that this is not the reality everywhere else.  Looking at just one country – Spain – where I have been living for the past 11 years, the concept of giving back is strong yet not the same as our American version.  People certainly care and help and give back, yet in a different manner and with a different motivation.  There is a genuine, heartfelt concern for others.  

 In the past, most “help” has come from the government or the church or often from your own family.  In this predominantly Catholic country, the church has been a major conduit for help and donations.  Spaniards direct their donations to the local church that then distributes accordingly. Spaniards are generous in their giving to the church and many people volunteer to facilitate the “help”.  Also, the church subsidizes many Catholic schools here.  The schools offer a limited education of giving back with children, such as visiting nearby geriatric centers or hospitals. Unfortunately, outside of school, there is not a strong culture for young people and children to participate in these efforts.  Adults certainly give back with used clothes donations, volunteering in the soup kitchens, visits to local geriatric centers, and in many more ways.

There are other factors at play in this European country, and we’ll examine them further tomorrow.  Do you have an experience of sharing and giving you would like to mention?  Perhaps through your church or a a nursing home? Leave us a comment.

Meet More of Our Lucky Winners

We’re pleased to announce more winners from the second week of the Sofia’s Dream blog book tour. Hannah O., Pamela P., Brie P., and Pamela H. – your books will arrive soon. Amanda G. was our grand prize winner of the iPod and book. Congratulations!

Here’s a picture of one of our lucky winners from the first week of the tour. Thank you all for participating in our contest and loving Little Pickle Press books!

Meet More of Our Lucky Winners

We’re pleased to announce more winners from the second week of the Sofia’s Dream blog book tour. Hannah O., Pamela P., Brie P., and Pamela H. – your books will arrive soon. Amanda G. was our grand prize winner of the iPod and book. Congratulations!

Here’s a picture of one of our lucky winners from the first week of the tour. Thank you all for participating in our contest and loving Little Pickle Press books!