Helping Keiki And The Economy

Susan Page
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Wednesday - December 26, 2007
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I’m always ready for Christmas the day after Christmas. Maybe some of you can relate. As a charter member of Procrastinators of America, I’m always a last-minute shopper, wrapper and giver. I’ve tried to shop early, but the brilliant ideas just don’t strike until the shopper “endorphins” trigger the giddy high that comes with barely reaching the retail finish line. I pay more for the thrill of the risk.

Certainly Christmas should-n’t be just about the madcap dash to buy as it’s come to be. Of course, it’s the celebration of Christ’s birth. Even non-Christians around the world acknowledge the season’s meaning and embrace the spirit of giving, symbolic of the Magi bringing gifts to baby Jesus. It’s a universal time of love, sharing and gratitude.

And also the economy. What some may deem a crass distortion of the “real” meaning of Christmas - shop till we drop - actually helps drive the most economically successful nation in the world. And the result of success at Christmastime is, for one thing, the creation of jobs enabling each employee to give more generously not only to friends and family but to a myriad of charities in their communities and around the world. It’s a domino effect that also boosts our state and national tax base, which drives government to fund employment, national defense, social programs and aid to the needy here and in the Third World. To continue to be the most charitable nation in the world - as ours inarguably is - we need to shop.

Clearly, retailers - and I used to be one - count on a “good Christmas season” to make their financial picture brighter and, in some cases, to just survive. When you buy from them, it is in essence an act of giving. Small businesses, the backbone of our Hawaii economy, always teeter on the precipice of success or failure, depending on inevitable ever-escalating overhead and unpredictable sales. When you shop - before Christmas or at post-Christmas sales - remind yourself of the gift you are giving to our businesses, their employees, to our state and national economies, and the world.

And now a suggestion for those who’ve never met a deadline you didn’t love to barely make: You have only five more days (till Dec. 31) to make a world of difference in a child’s life - not just a needy one in the Third World, but your child’s or grandchild’s. It involves something cool, new and tax-deductible called the XO.

If you didn’t see it on 60 Minutes or read about it, it’s a computer like none other made. As David Progue’s October New York Times article describes, it’s “... spillproof, rainproof, dust-proof and drop-proof. It’s fanless, it’s silent and it weighs 3.2 pounds. One battery charge will power six hours of heavy activity, or 24 hours of reading. The laptop has a built-in video camera, microphone, memory-card slot, graphics tablet, game-pad controllers and a screen that rotates into a tablet configuration.”

The XO is at the heart of a non-profit program called “One Laptop Per Child” designed for the 2 billion children in Third World countries that have no access to education at all, much less computers.

And the best part: It costs only $200. Until the end of the month, you can be part of a “Give One, Get One” program.

The deal is that when you buy one laptop for you or a child in your world, you must also buy one for a needy child in a poor part of the world (getting a $200 tax deduction). Of course, you can give your XO to a struggling child or a school right here in Hawaii if you wish.

Despite detractors and envious “for-profit” competitors, this is an amazing piece of technology - a breakthrough in every sense of the word. I won’t elaborate on the myriad of mind-blowing details but I encourage you go immediately to php, research the information and read the New York Times review.

Consistent with my procrastinator disorder, I’ve indulged in this just-under-the-wire purchase for our grandchildren and some “grand” children in other places. (And don’t forget the year-end giving deadlines for your favorite charities (mine are Kapiolani Children’s Miracle Network and Heart for Africa. We “sickos” can wait to mail donations on Dec. 31 at post office closing time.)

I send belated day-after Christmas wishes that the spirit of the season will be with you on-time, a little late and always.

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