Charity begins wherever you start it

By Mir
August 4, 2006
Category Big Picture

As I’ve mentioned before, it is my belief that everyone should contribute time and money to charity. It’s good karma. It’s a learning experience. It will encourage you to manage your finances appropriately. It will (if you have children) model good values for your kids. And—argue with me if you like—it’s your social responsibility.

Don’t tell me you have no time. Make time.

Don’t tell me you have no money. You have internet access (and possibly a computer). You have enough money to do something.

I don’t care how you do it, but I promise you that if you think you can’t—because time is too tight, because there isn’t a spare cent to be had—that you can find a way, and the results will be worth it.

There are a couple more posts coming up later today that I wrote yesterday. I’m not actually here today, because I’m walking 60 miles for breast cancer research this weekend. This is not because I am a great or altruistic person; it’s because it’s something I felt called to do. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back. But it’s already been an incredible journey (with fundraising and training) so I can only imagine what I’ll be thinking once it’s over.

I don’t see this sort of thing as an imposition or a bother. It’s important. It matters to me. I feel honored to be able to help in some small way. And I’m not just talking about the walk I’m on; I give time/money in various places. No, I’m not rich (far from it). But I have enough. I want to share what I have, lest I become overly attached to the stuff of life and devalue the people around me.

I’ve struggled with how to talk about this here, because I do believe it’s important, and it’s hard to talk about without sounding preachy. All I can tell you is that if you’re not currently giving of yourself in this way, you’re missing out. There’s a lot to be learned about yourself and your finances when you start considering charity as indispensible to your budget as gasoline or groceries.

So just do me a favor, this weekend. Think about it. What can you do? Where do you feel called to offer help? I’m not sure I recommend the walking until your feet turn into bloody stumps thing (not sure what I was thinking, there), but there are myriad ways to give of yourself. One (or more) is right for you.

See you all next week.


  1. well said! thanks.

    of course if you’re a total complete tightwad you can possibly volunteer a day or two at a thrift shop. I used to, before kids. I got to meet and serve some people I wouldn’t otherwise know or have compassion fo. But I also got first dibs on whatever fun stuff came through the door. I had the authority to throw out the stuff in there that was absolute garbage (rips, stains, broken, missing buttons etc.) I got to convince some of my friends that a thrift shop was not a scary place, and they could come in and shop on “my day” to overcome their fear. I got to work with a bunch of older women (in their 60s-80s; I was in my late 20s) and learn from their wisdom.

    Now with little kids at home and a husband who works as a mechanic at a non-profit camp I have to be more creative with giving. I’m an artist/crafter when I’m not “just mom” and one of my favorite ways to give is of my talent: donating photography for non-profit event, or creating something and giving it to a charity auction.

    we’ve also realized that being thrifty means that we can live on less, which doesn’t necessarily mean “more to save for later” as much as it means “more to give away.” Does everyone here know that the average yearly income for the world is under $5 a day? When we found that out we decided that no matter our small-by-American-standards income, we were going to adopt some Compassion children. And we’ve done it for about five years now I think, and we haven’t even had to give up the twenty-cent Crayolas. How’s that for rich?

    thanks for your blog, Mir. You’re saying things that need to be said. Which makes you even prettier to me. ;o)

  2. Last weekend I joined several other bloggers for a Blogathon Blog to raise money for Farm Aid, which brought together blogging, charity and trying to help save our planet.

    I was actually sorry at the end that it was over. We didn’t raise oodles of cash for it, but it was more than they had before, and we got to educate some people on factory farms and organic foods as well.

    There are plenty of simple things that do not take a lot of time or money that can be rewarding as well. Take an hour and go to a senior center, or nursing home, or hospital and visit some people.

    Buy some inexpensive plants from a local nursery and plant them in a public area or park (check with local officials first on this one).

    Going to that back to school sale? Buy a couple extra notebooks, crayons… whatever, and drop them off at your school for those that don’t have.

    I actually like the saying they are using on Disney Channel right now, and it applies here. VERB… It’s what you do.

  3. Check out your local Staples (or other such store) and grocery store. Many of them set out bins for school supplies that they then donate to local charities. A GREAT convenient place to put all those extra 20-cent Crayolas and 10-cent notebooks. And shiny new pencils and erasers and…ack, I love back to school. I’m such a geek.

  4. So true, Mir, so true. On the selfish side of giving, it makes you feel good, because it reminds you of what you do have, not what you have not.

  5. I stock up on toiletries when they’re free or close to it with sales, coupons etc. after Hurricane Katrina last year, when many survivors were coming to our area, we had no cash to give and as a homeschooling mom who also babysits and infant I had little time to volunteer. But we went through our storage cabinet and gave about $200 worth of toiletries to our local charity who was helping hurricane victims. They needed these kind of things desperately. It made me feel good that even with no money to spare we were able to help someone else. You are right that anyone can find a way to give. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. I agree – we do what we can. We do school supplies and backpacks in the city, and my husband works for an ambulance company in a major city where they do a lot of different types of volunteer work.

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