If there’s anything the world needs right now is more charity. Our fellow man is in desperate need of a hand, sometimes just to hold, and sometimes one filled with food or money. So, when you clink the champagne glass as 2011 begins, let me ask you to consider adding this New Year’s resolution: “I will be more charitable.” And, believe it or not, of all the resolutions you will make, this one will be easy to accomplish because you don’t have to be wealthy and you don’t have to give away hours and hours of time to be more charitable.
“I will be more kind to others.”
Is being kind being charitable? Well, no it’s not. But being kind is where charity begins. When you can be friendly to those you pass in your life, when you can look past our differences and simply care for others, you are opening your heart to charity. Being nice won’t put food on a hungry man’s table or find a cure for cancer, but if you can’t be nice you’ll never be able to be charitable. The two go hand in hand.
“I will lend a helping hand.”
The second step, after cultivating the “kindness” within yourself is to channel the kindness through small acts of giving. I’m not talking about giving money (yet), but rather giving of yourself. And though the giving should be directed at those who really need help, you can certainly practice with people you know first. When you hear that a friend has pneumonia, why not cook a dinner or two and bring it over? Offer to babysit the kids for a neighbor undergoing cancer treatment. And don’t forget the old “shoveling the driveway” trick for an elderly friend.
“I will teach by example.”
If you have children, you know how much your actions influence them. Boys and girls want to be just like mom and dad. They pick up the same hobbies; they tend to enjoy the same music. And, they can learn to be charitable by watching you as well. If you tithe at your church or synagogue, tell your children about it and let them contribute a small share from their piggy banks. If you contribute to the local fire department’s annual campaign, explain to your children why you feel it is important. The next time you pass a homeless person on the street, let your child see you drop a dollar in the cup. One day, because of your example, you’ll see your child doing the same thing.
“I will not throw away things of value.”
That bookshelf you don’t need anymore may have no value to you, but maybe the local library could use it. Those baby clothes you were saving in case you had another baby boy may be a few years old, but to a destitute child they will be clothes fit for a king. Your kids may have lost a box or two to those old games, but a child without anything doesn’t care about a box. Think before you toss things in the garbage (and you're being charitable to the earth as well!) There’s usually tons of life left in most of the things we throw away. Don’t have time to worry about taking things to shelters and charitable agencies? The Salvation Army, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Lupus Foundation are just a few that will come right to your doorstep to collect your donations.
“I will give what I can.”
There are many people who don’t have a dime to rub together after all the bills are paid and the kids are fed. But there are many others who have some left over. If you fit into that category, let me suggest that it doesn’t take much to make a difference. For instance, I’ve been giving $5 to the Food Bank every time I go grocery shopping. The small contribution I make actually provides 15 meals for hungry people. It’s my way of showing my thankfulness for being able to feed my family. When I’m spending hundreds at the store anyway, what’s another $5? It won’t hurt me, but it will definitely help someone else.
So don’t forget when you’re listing your 2011 resolutions to think about being a bit more charitable. Since it’s easier to do than you might have thought, you’ll probably reach that goal much sooner than the others.
Vietnam Veterans of America Clothing Donations
Lupus Foundation of America Clothing Donations
Salvation Army Donations Pick-Up 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825)
Check Out Hunger
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