After shoppers hunt for the best deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, some members of Congress are hoping Americans will pull out their wallets and roll up their sleeves for "Giving Tuesday."
"This is something that should inspire that desire to be of service," Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, said in a phone interview on Nov. 24. "We look at Congress, we look at the partisanship, the partisan divide that's there. This is something that Democrats and Republicans can work together on in a way that benefits everyone.”
On Nov. 20, Gabbard introduced a resolution to designate Dec. 2 as "Giving Tuesday," a national day of giving and volunteerism. The Hawaii Democrat introduced the bill along with her Congressional Future Caucus co-chairman, Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill. Reps. Juan C. Vargas, D-Calif.; Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.; Todd Young, R-Ind.; and Rodney Davis, R-Ill., co-sponsored the resolution. The United Nations Foundation and 92nd Street Y, a New York City community center, began the #GivingTuesday movement in 2012, utilizing social media to spread the philanthropic message. More than 16,000 U.S. organizations are partners in the movement, creating a Giving Tuesday project and spreading the word about the event.
With the movement in its third year, members of Congress decided to join in on the day of giving.
"It’s just a matter of seeing how this has grown over the last couple of years," said Gabbard. "And seeing an opportunity to include Congress in this spirit of giving and service and use the platforms that each of us have to spread this message.”
The bill was referred to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Gabbard said she has been talking to committee members and staffers to place the resolution on the calendar.
"It’s not been placed on the schedule or the calendar yet, but, regardless, we’ve gotten a few co-sponsors on there and the objective really is to get the word out and to spread the word to people," Gabbard said.
In introducing the resolution, the lawmakers also hoped to foster the spirit of giving that already exists among younger Americans, or millennials, who are the focus of the Future Caucus.
“According to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report, 73 percent of millennials gave to charity in 2013,” Schock said in a statement announcing the resolution. “Generosity and philanthropy are important to our generation, and we are rising to do our part as previous generations have done."
Schock and Gabbard founded the Congressional Future Caucus, in conjunction with the Millennial Action Project, in September 2013 as a way to organize younger members of Congress and forge bipartisan, long-term solutions to problems facing the United States.
The caucus has around 20 members, but Gabbard said they are hoping to expand their ranks in the 114th Congress. Eleven of the new House members, including the youngest woman ever elected to Congress , are under the age of 40.
Before those new members are sworn in in January, Gabbard will be busy participating in Giving Tuesday, though she is still determining how she will be involved in the day of service. But Gabbard also said Giving Tuesday is about instilling a lasting desire for public service.
“When you do things to be of service to others … you want to continue to do more of it. It’s not just something that’s limited to one day,” Gabbard said.