Update 12/31/2010: If you're visiting here for the first time and interested in helping the less fortunate, please see this information on The Seattle Times Fund For The Needy.

"Since 1979, the Fund For The Needy has helped support some of the most vulnerable members of our community, including children, families and seniors. In three decades, generous readers of The Seattle Times have donated a total of more than $13.3 million, 100 percent of which goes directly to local agencies who address critical community needs. The Fund For The Needy helps fund 13 local nonprofit agencies specializing in preventative and remedial services for families and individuals at risk. Your donation means these agencies can provide more people with the opportunity to make a change for the better."

Back to the post. And Happy New Year. ;)

Here's a Friday link a day early. The Seattle P-I newspaper has a slide show today on "Words of Thanks."

"What are you most thankful for? P-I photographer Meryl Schenker profiles six local residents who have different reasons for giving thanks on this holiday."

We're thankful for many things, primarily for good health, family, and our community. And this Thanksgiving more than in the past, the kids are aware that the holidays are here.

But for them, it turns out that the holidays is about more than just toys.

Here's an example: Our eldest son, Max, launched a project this summer using Office Live called Another Thousand Paintings, a series of companion paintings to Sala's one thousand paintings of numbers. He decided that he wanted to create a series of paintings that are nicely painted on a stretched canvas (approx. 12 x 12 x 1.5"). Each is unique, paired to a single number from 1 to 1,000. The number and the demand define the price.

Max sees that we're involved and supportive of local charities and organizations, not the least of which includes his school. So it wasn't really a surprise when he said that he planned to donate half the profits from the sale of his paintings to charity, as he was interested in financing a new Zune purchase (then just the new thing). Max supports two local charities: he selected the Woodland Park Zoo and the Children's Hospital, both in Seattle. And he soon (after some discussion;) decided that once he'd financed his new Zune, he'd put all future net profits (after expenses for canvases and paint, and donations) into his college fund. That's good planning.

But along the way he realized that he could do more good to benefit others as he saw the emails come in and the requests for his paintings grow.

This became quite apparent during our company's Giving Campaign in October. I put up one of his paintings as an auction item during the Giving Campaign auction, with all of the gross proceeds to go to charity. Max is just enthusiastic that people are interested in donating to charities they support as well as his art. I was surprised when several people bid on it and finally closed at $75. Cool: with matching, that's $150 for the United Way.

Here's the interesting part: Max mentioned after the auction closed that if people who had bid unsuccessfully on his paintings still wanted one, he would be happy to create one for them. In return, Max asked that a donation be made (in the amount of their highest bid in the auction) to either one of teh charities he supports or the giver's favourite charity before the end of the calendar year. Turned out that just about everyone was interested and took Max up on the offer, turning his one auction item donation into several and more than quadrupling the donations to charities.

Sometimes Max is quite a challenge, but more often he shows just how big a heart he has.

You may think that writing out what you're thankful is quite corny. As important as my work is to me, my family is at the top of the list. So this Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for for many things, but most of all I'm grateful that some of the things we hope gets through to our kids actually sinks in. 

No matter what you do, who you are or which OS, services or applications you use, be thoughtful and think about what makes you thankful. Happy Thanksgiving, and have a good long weekend.