riverside county bar association elves program

Giving Back: The Best Gift I Will Receive All Year - The RCBA Elves Program

What's on your Christmas list?  If you're me, it's a memory foam pillow with a gel core that will stay invitingly cool even after the dry summer heat washes over the Temecula Valley in the months to come.  Not that gel core pillow that came out back in 2014, though. While the 2014 model is usable, the 2015 model offers the ultimate cooling experience.  I just can't imagine having to push through the summer months without . . .  

Wait.  Dang.  Am I memorializing yet another Christmas by fabricating my wants into needs? Am I using the platform of Jesus' birth to strong-arm my family into buying me half of the Sharper Image catalog?  Have I given a thought to those who are actually in need?  

Now, I'm no saint.  I was escorted out of Bible study on many occasions as a kid.  However, even a hellion like me knows that the holiday season is meant to be a time of giving.  But, as a self-centered person, I tend to hold my own desires above the wants and needs of others.  It isn't an exercise I recommended.  Self-absorption can breed discontent.  For, if I only look at myself, and what I have and what I want, I can always find something to be unsatisfied with.


It is amazing what giving can do.  By shifting out of my seasonal selfishness and looking to the needs of others, I am remunerated with humility and gratitude for what I already have in my life. Not things.  But love, people, experiences, and, ok, some things too.  

The Riverside County Bar Association's (RCBA) Elves Program offers a cure for my seasonal selfishness disorder.  Each year, the RCBA identifies families in need and, through generous donations of time and money, buys, wraps, and delivers gifts for those families in need.  I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the Program this holiday season.  

My experience started on gift wrapping night, where many of us gathered in the RCBA board room to wrap gifts.  I wrapped for a family of 8 who went through a stretch of homelessness over the last couple years.  After wrapping, I took two Hefty bags of gifts, loaded them into my truck, and prepared to deliver gifts the next day.  

My wife and I delivered gifts to two families in Riverside County.  Delivering to the families is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had this year.  My wife and I sat and watched as the the children ripped into the bags of gifts and tossed the presents under the tree. The curious ones shook the boxes, and carefully felt the outsides to preemptively determine the contents.  An experience every child should have.  

If just for that day or even that moment,  I forgot about my Christmas list.  My wants.  My problems.  My discontents.  As it turns out, giving something is the best gift I will receive all year. For it was only through giving that I could escape my self-absorption and come to see all I have to be grateful for.  Sharper Image ain't selling that yet.  

Until then, I encourage any attorneys in Riverside County to participate in the annual Elves Program.  Thank you to the RCBA, Veronica Reynoso, Brian C. Pearcy, Charlene Nelson, and many more who put so much into the Program and make it possible.

Posted by Mike Donaldson.