I am sure you have heard the saying “Give and you shall receive”. This statement holds a lot of truth. I find the more I give, the better I feel about myself…and it makes me feel grateful that I am in a position to help. I know around Christmas time, charity and giving seem to be a focus but why does charity have to be an annual thing?
I remember a time when I was living in Ottawa, Ontario, and noticed a homeless man asking for money. It was a cold February and he had his small dog huddled up on his lap so they could keep each other warm.
I remember thinking, “Even if he does collect some money today…in his un-kept state, is he shunned from grocery stores? Or fast food or coffee places?”
As I walked across the street and entered the mega-mall, I decided to do a good deed. I bought him some oranges (vitamin C), a sandwich and a hot coffee. On my way out, I noticed a pet store so I bought a small bag of dog food.
When I approached this man and his dog, I introduced myself and gave him the items I had brought for him. I asked his name and his dog’s name. He seemed hesitant to answer – like there must be some string attached.
Before he could answer, a woman walked by…stopped…let out a big huff and exclaimed, “FINE…here!”, threw some money in his bowl and then walked away.
I realized what a difference in emotion the same deed brought two different people. I was feeling good about helping and the other woman was…well…feeling the opposite.
Who was I to tell the woman not to give if it makes her feel crappy as I am sure the homeless man needed the money?
The homeless man was very thankful towards me and I walked away feeling like maybe I had made his life a little better – even if momentarily.
So my suggestion is to find a charity that means something to you. If that means giving money, or donating time or participating in an event…DO IT! But do it from a place you can feel good from. Is that good place within you really that hard to find? I know for me, I feel the best when I am trying to make the world a better place. So give it a try…I bet it will change you for the better.
Disclaimer and Mom if you are reading this: I am not endorsing walking up to strangers and putting yourself in unsafe situations. I kept some distance between the homeless man and myself and it was day light on a busy street.
I love when people try to make a difference. I hate how all these actors and musicians ride around in their ferrari’s while kids in 3rd world countries struggle for survival. Seriously, it makes me sick. I wish everyone could be equal in a way.
Having been on both ends of this, I can definitely say that actions like that (going out of your way to help) make a huge difference. Not just for a moment, but a long, long time.
I missed this post and happened upon it now. I do this every year – give money to a local inner city charity in the name of all my friends in lieu of giving them gifts. The charity sends out a card that says “a donation has been made to Bissell center in your name by Darlene”. I also volunteer my time at their New Year’s dinner where we feed about 1000 homeless and impoverished people lunch (all food is donated by local caterer and served by volunteers) Rob’s coming with me this year.
I often do the same as you and buy a panhandler lunch instead of giving them money. I ran into a couple that was obviously down on their luck – I was coming out of a Tokyo Express. They asked for money and I asked if they were hungry – they said yes. I offered to take them in and buy them lunch, the man stayed outside – he was too embarassed by his appearance and smell to go in. The lady came in and I was guessing that she likely couldn’t read cause when I asked her to pick from the menu, she said anything was fine. So I asked her if she liked chicken and ordered two bowls of terriyaki chicken, and told her to get 2 drinks out of the cooler. She came back with one and said they could share. Then the bill came to like $12 and she told me that was too much, she couldn’t ask me to do that and to just get one bowl and they’d share – I didn’t of course.
She hugged me and said “bless you” as I left and she waited for the food.
Outside the man thanked me too. They still have dignity and love to be treated as human beings and with respect. Everyone needs love.
I also have a pet peeve about “Christmas charities” that provide a festive meal to needy families. the money they spend on giving turkey to someone could feed a whole family for a month – not just one festive meal. What do they do after that? How do they stay warm? Don’t get me started.