Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Giving isn't Just for "Givers"

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it.”
Stephen Colbert

You've probably seen this quote a LOT recently.  And recent events (ahem, the "Occupy" event that has gone global) has brought a lot of controversy to the table regarding who should be taking action against Wall Street, IF we should be taking action against Wall Street, WHERE our tax money goes, WHO should be taxed and HOW MUCH they should be taxed... Should we be taxing the rich because they have so much effing money they don't need that much?  Or should we be giving them a tax break because they are fueling our economy?  Would you be living off of unemployment too if you had to provide for your family and knew another job wouldn't pay as much?  What if you, living your lavish life, lost your job?  Don't you still have a mortgage to pay and food to put on the table for your family?  Or would you do the "honest" thing and take that minimum wage-paying job at McDonald's so you're not "living off of the government"?  Then again, when you did have that job for X amount of years, didn't you pay taxes that went to those who were unemployed? Don't you deserve to live off of the government now?

So many questions, so many opinions, so much controversy.... Honestly, I would rather stay out of that debacle.  When we say we should "give to the poor", people instantly hear "give money to the poor."  If you have the means to give money, by all means do so.  But don't not give because you don't have money, or you don't want to give money.  There are many other ways to give to those in need, just by putting in just a little more effort.  And whether or not you think these people deserve help or not, the fact is that they are in need.  Do you really want to see more homeless people on the streets because you don't think they deserve help?  Do you really want more crime?  Maybe you think it's a social issue that just has to change and it's "not my problem they ruined their life with drugs and live on the street now."  Wouldn't you rather "give" to an organization that helps prisoners get back on their feet instead of throwing them on the streets, only to do something that puts them back in prison because that's a better life (i.e. spending more of your tax dollars whether you like it or not).  The fact is that these social issues aren't going to change just because we "will" them to change.

Whether or not you know how to give, here's a reminder of ways you can "give" without directly giving money, but by just re-organizing your lifestyle a bit:
  • Donate your old things :
    • Take your old clothes to a charity consignment store such as Salvation Army, a homeless shelter, or another organization that may help those in need get on the right track to a better life.
    • Why did you get that new flat screen television? Does your old one still work? Give it to someone in need instead of littering the landfill.  Same goes for your old cell phone, old coffee pot, and other things you have replaced just because you "wanted" one, and not because you "needed" one.  Just because you can't buy new tube TV's doesn't mean someone doesn't want one. 
  • Take advantage of coupons :
    • My mom told me this the other day:  She's going to start giving the "free" item when she gets "buy one get one free."  For Mr P and I, this doesn't happen very often because we buy perishable foods almost exclusively. But maybe you have to get toilet paper, and you have a coupon for buy one get one free for a 12-pack.  For us, we certainly don't have room for TWO 12-packs, but not using the coupon is like turning down free money.  Get the free one, and donate it!
  • Volunteer:
    • I don't think there needs to be an explanation for this one, but there are many places you can donate your time without committing to a regular schedule.  One year my mom and I spent Thanksgiving serving food to those in need instead of being gluttonous like most of those who have the means to provide such a meal.
    • Don't have time to volunteer?  Think about how your spend your time every week.  Do you really need to watch that episode of the Real Housewives of where ever?  DVR it, watch it later, and volunteer one night a week (or month) at a Boys and Girls club or sort through donated items at a charity consignment store.
  • Participate in Charity Events:
    • Oh? You wanted to go to the bar tonight? Why don't we go (here) because the cover gets donated to (this) charity!
    • Starting to run?  Test your skills in a 5k or fun run.  Procedes almost always go to a charity organization.  Choose one that benefits those in need.
  • Buy from stores that give back:
    • Tom's shoes is the best example.  Today I am wearing my Tom's, which remind me that for every pair of Tom's I buy, another is given to one in need (whether it is in the United States or another part of the world)
    • Go out to eat on a special night when 5% or 10% of your bill will go to a charity.

I could go on and on, but the point is... you don't have to have money in order to "give". and if you do have money but don't want to "just give it away", then let someone else turn your trash into treasure, instead of turning your trash into an environmental hazard. Or just buy wisely from places that give back.

Cheers to giving... I think I'll be cleaning out my closet giving some of my old shoes to Salvation Army AND getting a new pair of Tom's giving a new pair to a child in need.  BAM!  Two ways of giving in just one day.

How will you give today?  Tomorrow?  This year?


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