The holiday season often provides the opportunity to remember what is most important in our lives. That is, when we get past all the hustle and bustle of shopping and gifts.

Itís important to remember itís not what gifts are found under the tree that is important but the spirit of the giver. The gifts are merely a symbol of the care, concern and love of giver.

My faith tells me that certainly was true on the first Christmas, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Ė John 3:16. There is no greater gift.

The best gift my wife Nancy and I have received this holiday season is our 16-year-old daughter now being cancer free for more than two and a half years. Katieís courageous battle with cancer from the fall of 2010 through the spring of 2011 certainly created a new perspective on whatís truly important for our family.

During Christmas 2010 Katie was at Childrenís Mercy Hospital, receiving another round of chemotherapy. We have a cherished picture on our fridge of Katie the day after we got home from Childrenís Mercy at our kitchen table with her two brothers and cousins, bald headed but smiling.

Our family, friends and faith community at our church supported us in countless ways, and hundreds of other people who had never met Katie prayed for her to beat her cancer. All this support and prayers were tremendous gifts.

Right now as I sit in my office writing this column and look up from my computer screen I see Childrenís Mercy East right across the street and give thanks for such a wonderful organization and all of their tremendous staff. Childrenís Mercy is truly a gift for our community and itís great to have their newest facility here in Eastern Jackson County.

The pause between Christmas and the new year is a great time to hopefully catch your breath from the hustle and bustle of the season, remember what is most important and reconnect with our priorities. Many people also make new yearís resolutions during this time, and ideally these resolutions are related to our priorities and whatís truly important in our lives.

I have the privilege to serve our Eastern Jackson County community as the president and CEO of the Truman Heartland Community Foundation. At the foundation we have the opportunity to serve some of the most giving and caring people in our community whose generosity with their time, talents and treasure is making a difference in the lives of thousands in our community.

As you ponder your new yearís resolutions, if one of your resolutions is to do more to give back to your community, make a note to contact us at your community foundation. Our business is really all about serving people who want to give back to their community and helping them do it more effectively. We would be pleased to sit down and talk with you about how we can help you fulfill your new yearís resolution to do more to give back to your community. Happy new year!

Phil Hanson is president and CEO of the Truman Heartland Community Foundation, based in Independence.