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Paying it Forward: A Modest Proposal for Gift Giving

Written By: Ann McLaughlin, Membership Development Coordinator

Thanksgiving has wonderfully warmed our hearts and filled our bellies and now the season of gift-giving lies ahead. Giving gifts has been part of human culture for thousands of years as an expression of gratitude and appreciation for people in the community. A considerable amount of research has been done showing that gift-giving increases happiness for both givers and receivers, strengthens social bonds, produces significant endorphin release in all who witness giving, and produces cascades of increased giving from gift recipients and observers. Giving simply enriches communities with goodness that ripples out to others beyond our reach.

On November 15th, our global population crossed the 8 billion mark. Increasing concerns of serious climate events, the global pandemic, and international conflicts, all indicate stresses of a growing population. Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation is committed to sustaining a healthy community by educating youth and responding to environmental issues that improve our community. So what does a growing population and climate concerns have to do with gift giving you ask? Well let’s look at gift giving with a wider radius.

In September I had the honor to spend an afternoon with, and hear stories from, some of the local Washoe People who have lived in Western Nevada “in the beginning and have always lived here…” For these lovely people, giving was a way of life, “to ask of the person who had something to share, was a universal custom.”

One of the stories shared that day was the way they saw the obligations of their everyday lives. Washoe members spoke that day about how allowing clean water to flow downstream, and down-generations, simply protects life for relations all around us. Listening to this custom, it seems to me that the Washoe people have been paying-it-forward for generations. More can be learned about the Washoe perspective in the citations below.

It is difficult to separate the sacred from the everyday life of the Washoe. The Washoe see every aspect of the environment as sentient beings that are deserving of respect and cooperation if humans are to survive. The Earth, its terrain, its waters, in short all the living and nonliving things are considered to be sacred.

When we broaden our giving awareness we can create the sustainable future we all hope for. Our local children need educational opportunities. We can tap into the talent and passion of fresh eyes, and energy, of kids. Your gifts to TMPF support the generations to come which will ripple outward to help us through the proverbial knothole of challenges we face as a society.

Locally, many organizations are ready to provide environmental education to help address living challenges. We at TMPF are reaching out to ask you to give to the future by investing in the next generation. In the spirit of giving broadly to assist in preserving this environment to benefit future generations, please give what you can. Here are some amazing local options that would gratefully accept your gifts:

  • Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation has 50 students who need a scholarship to camp. You can purchase an entire week of camp or a week of supplies. Student surveys show 71% of our kids aspire to continue studying math and science and hope to pursue an education in science. Please give any-size donation to pay-it-forward. Check-out our giving options here.

  • Urban Roots is a Reno-based nonprofit that strives to change the way communities eat and learn through garden-based education. Check them out here to invest in growing healthy minds and healthy bodies in these local programs.

  • Sierra Nevada Journeys delivers innovative outdoor, science-based education programs for youth to develop critical thinking skills and to inspire natural resource stewardship. Get the whole story here to invest in the future of local kids.

As the earth turns toward the future we all will share, TMPF asks you to pay-it-forward, spread endorphins of hope and health beyond our personal reach and watch for a change for the positive. May your holidays be filled with joy and purpose and may you give where you can to be the change you want to see.

Happy Holidays,

Ann McLaughlin, Membership Development Coordinator

More Resources:


About the Author:

Born and raised in the West, Ann has a life-long love of the Sierras. Recently completing her master’s at UNR in communication studies, she is looking forward to joining the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation team as their Membership Coordinator and making new friends in the community. Eager to share her enthusiasm for the outdoors she looks forward to inviting locals to come outside and reap the benefits of our lovely open spaces. In her spare time, she can be found in the garden with her cat or on an “explore” in one of the nearly 200 wonderful parks in our area!


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