Times are tough. A lot of us are cutting back on Christmas this year. Some parents are turning to an unlikely source to put gifts under the tree: they’re begging. Just as shopping online has flourished, more and more people are opting for digital handouts.

Help Me Give Christmas to My Kids

Needy parents have placed ads requesting support on Craigslist, as well as on newer sites devoted exclusively to online charity. These sites include Begslist, CyberBeg, and DonateMoney2me.com.

Here’s an example of a Craigslist ad titled "Santa, Are You Out There?" from a recent NPR story:

I'm a partially disabled single father with two young sons, seven and eight. They deserve to get a few nice toys and things for Christmas. They are really good kids. I don't make enough money to be able to buy them anything.…If anyone out there could possibly help me obtain a few toys for my children please let me know. I hate to beg, but I will for my children.

What Are We Teaching Kids About Happiness and Stuff?

Many people who are too proud to beg on the street find it relatively easy to post an ad like the one above requesting a little personal charity. It is more discreet, and less direct

I can empathize with parents who worry their kids are getting the short end of Christmas if they don’t receive an abundance of gifts under the tree. I can understand how it seems unfair for the children to suffer the economic downturn or the parents’ misfortune. However, I worry about what we’re teaching kids by essentially showing them that if they don’t get a new Dora doll for Christmas that they are in fact less fortunate than kids with a pile of gifts under the tree.

Isn’t that what got us into this mess? Over valuing material possessions? It would be wonderful if all our children — the financially favored included — learned that happiness is not found in stuff. And that toys and other things are the least valuable gifts our parents bestow.

How about ShowLoveWithoutStuff.com?