What is #GivingTuesday?

Dwight Mueller is no stranger to the idea of fundraising, or of giving.

He works as a development associate for Mennonite Mission Network in their Newton, Kan., office, and it’s clear that he loves his work. However, if you ask Dwight about Giving Tuesday, you’ll see a special kind of excitement start to come through his words.

“Giving Tuesday is a different way to ask people for their support. It’s a fun, casual way for people to give back,” says Mueller. “You get to invite them to be a part of something.”

With Dwight’s lead, the Newton employees of Mennonite Mission Network celebrated Giving Tuesday for the first time on Dec. 3, 2013.

Mennonite Mission Network also has employees in the Elkhart (Indiana) office and scattered throughout the United States.

If you’re not familiar with Giving Tuesday, think of it as a response to the consumerism that so often overwhelms the holiday season.

This year, a total of 37 companies have made the decision to open their stores on Thanksgiving Day in anticipation of Black Friday. Small Business Saturday comes next, a day encouraging consumers to shop locally.

Finally, after a day of rest on Sunday, the Internet will be filled with people looking for deals on Cyber Monday.

The Giving Tuesday movement started in 2012, with the goal of refocusing the holiday season toward generosity. From Dwight’s perspective, the true power of Giving Tuesday is that it helps us maintain an emphasis on helping people during a busy holiday season.

After a successful first year, Giving Tuesday spread internationally in 2013. Multiple sources reported increased giving, and the #GivingTuesday hashtag was used over a quarter-million times on Twitter.

But how did Mission Network do in 2013? In one day, we raised nearly $800 from Mennonite Mission Network staff in Newton. This year, the rest of Mennonite Mission Network’s employees will join together in a giving competition on Giving Tuesday, with the goal of having 80 percent of all staff contributing.

With the holiday season already in full swing, Christians must contemplate what our response to consumerism should be. Jesus was not one to line up for door busters at Best Buy; his message to the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27, to sell his possessions, and give the money to the poor, still holds weight today.

While the temptation will be to line up on Thanksgiving afternoon, or to surf Amazon all day on Cyber Monday, we invite you to remember the ways in which you’ve been blessed, and to celebrate generosity with us on Giving Tuesday.

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