Friday, November 16, 2012

When I hit the lottery...

When I hit the lottery...

I will give it all away.

Well, most of it away. I'm not sure if this blog is a binding contract so I want to be clear in my intentions.

I've learned in recent years the value of "stuff" and by "stuff" I mean the non-essentials to live. The things that are cluttering my basement, filling my home and stuffed in my drawers. The items that I "had to have" because the marketing machines told me I did - or because I felt I had a right to own them because I had worked so hard to earn them. The tangibles that don't make my days any brighter or my family any happier. This "stuff" really has no value, especially when it sits in a drawer or on a shelf. It's just when I win it big, I'm going to figure out how to keep giving for years and years. I totally understand now why Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates want the uber-rich to make Giving Pledges as a way to increase awareness of American philanthropy. (Note: I'm not to here to discuss the pros and cons so keep your politics to yourself for the moment.) And this is where my fantasy stops and reality starts...

Fact is, this holiday season I'm trying to give *just a little more*, because giving makes my days brighter, my family happier, and those around us smile.

We can't afford to give much in comparison to many in this world. We can't serve 1,000 hot meals to the homeless out of our kitchen. Or send $100,000 to every charitable organization. But we give what we can. Sometimes it's just our time. Sometimes it's $10 worth of groceries or $20 worth of cleaning supplies. I don't think the details matter, I think the actions matter. It took me too long to realize the reward that comes with doing small deeds. Give these simple ideas some thought:

  • Next time you are in the supermarket parking lot, take a glance around and see if an elderly person could use a hand loading groceries in his/her car.
  • When you purchase something and get change - see if there is a can or a donation jar close by and drop your coins in there. Do you really need 38 cents?
  • Instead of grabbing one of something on sale, grab two and see if your can donate one to a local pantry.  Many supermarkets have boxes up front for donations.
  • Get your old sheets or blankets that aren't suitable for giving to families and see if your local animal shelter could use them for pets waiting for their forever homes.
  • Think about what you love to do in your spare time and see if there is a non-profit that needs help with your services. Maybe you love photography and could give them an hour of your time at their fundraiser event. Or perhaps you love crafts, knitting or quilting and you have scraps that a local preschool can use for crafts. Games in good shape can also be a nice donation to after school programs (I know our kid's school loves getting games in good shape!)
  • Traveling at Thanksgiving or Christmas? Pay the $2.00 toll for the person behind you in line. You don't know them, but if you're fortunate, maybe they pay it forward in some way.
  • Buy local. Purchase one holiday gift from your neighbor-owned store. It may not seem like "giving" but your patronage could help them put food on their own holiday table (or better, help pay the salary of a worker who desperately needs their job). Small businesses don't make millions like the big guys. They work hard and pay taxes towards keeping your community safe and clean so adding to their sales this month could go a long way.
  • Give blood. I'm a wimp and can't bring myself to do it - but I bet you could!
I know we're inundated with requests to give money, give more, sponsor this, sponsor that. But in the end, there are some inexpensive, much needed ways you can help right in your own neighborhood. And simply put, be kind. Kindness is the best thing you can give to those around you. Judgement and hate are equivalent to "stuff" really has no value.

Carry on. You have some good things to do today.