Monday, December 01, 2014


As a child my parents taught me that there was more happiness in giving than in receiving.  That's probably in the Bible somewhere.  Since I grew up in a very modest household it was probably very convenient for my parents to tell me that, as I remember wanting a lot but not getting a lot because we 'couldn't afford it'. 

But as I matured I definitely understood that what you 'get' from giving to others is happiness and joy.  When you give to others (your time, your money, yourself) you make a difference in someone's life and that makes the recipient happy AND it makes you happy.  Its a win-win situation!

Yesterday Spouse & I did some charity shopping.  My company supplied its employees with a 'wish list' from Ronald McDonald House of DE so we used that to inform our purchases and then dropped them off at my office.  Next we went to the grocery store and purchased shelf-stable foods (canned and dry goods) and dropped those off at a local food bank drop-off location.  It was actually quite enjoyable to do this together, and knowing that these things will have a real impact on people gave us genuine happiness and joy.

Over the years I have volunteered for and raised money for AIDS research and treatment, battered women's shelter, cancer and stroke research, Habitat for Humanity, and local food banks.  I say this not to 'toot my own horn', but rather to show examples of how anyone can make a difference in other peoples' lives and receive a feeling of happiness at the same time. 

Literally anyone can participate in 1 or more ways:
  • Give of yourself - volunteer in person at a soup kitchen, food bank pantry, Habitat for Humanity build site, hospice, SPCA, or meal delivery service
  • Encourage others - host a fundraiser and invite your friends, neighbors, and colleagues to donate and/or volunteer, or get them to pledge for you to run a 5K race
  • Support local drives - pick up non-perishable food items, household items, or toys and drop them off at Thanksgiving or Christmas drop-off point
  • Give money - send checks to worthy charities 
When giving financial donations be sure to research how much of your dollars actually goes to the cause and how much goes to executive salaries and administrative costs.  Check this site to know which charities are highly-rated and have lower paid CEOs and which charities have highly-paid CEOs but are low rate charities.  Sadly there are some charities and scams you'll probably want to avoid.  Local giving can be often be more effective.

Another benefit of in-person volunteering is that you will likely meet other like-minded people.  This has certainly been the case for me.  I've met lots of sincere and fun friends while volunteering.

I encourage everyone to commit to giving, not just at the holidays, but all year 'round.  You'll be amazed at how good it feels to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.


Bob said...

Great post, and oh so true.

And it takes so little, really, to make a huge difference in a person's life; recycle an old coat to a charity that donates to the homeless; volunteer at a soup kitchen or a hospice--that requires no money at all so you can't use the 'can't afford it' speech.

Just help out whenever and wherever you can.

anne marie in philly said...

I checked out my fave charity - 91% of money raised goes to the program, 3% goes to the chairperson, 6% is spread over admin costs. I'd say my charity is a good one!

spouse's fave charity is 65% program, 13% chairperson, 22% admin costs. hmmmm...

Biki Honko said...

It feels nice to know you've helped someone out. Life doesnt seem so hopeless and dead end when we volunteer to help out.

Have you heard about the groups that buy hats, and gloves and scarfs and socks, bag them up and when its cold out hands them and a sandwich out to the homeless?

Lately, our favorite grocery store, has a program where the charity of your choice receives a duplicate amount of points and coupons that you've accumulated over the quarter. Our charity is the teen homeless shelter. And yes I made sure they will take in lgbt teens, as so many of them wont.