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The Spirit of Giving!

By: Jon

December 24, 2016

The spirit of giving is alive and well in most of us; however, only a handful actually carry out the task. The rest of us seem to in some kind of hapless obscurity, possibly thinking that only because we imagined that we might grant some amount of charity to someone at some point, that we are justified in not performing the act, simply through our mental conjuring of it. I know that at some point, I have been guilty of this notion of “at least I thought about doing it”, with that somehow making the totality of my inaction “o.k.” I do know one thing for sure, and that is that one the occasions that we do actually engage in a charitable action we should actually give it a great deal of thought beforehand, so that it is actually charitable to the intended person(s), and not a hindrance.



Consider the following scenario: a man goes down to the local grocery store and buys an entire cartload of food. He buys up all manner of dry and canned goods, fresh meat, fruit, frozen foods, vegetables, and beverages of all kinds… and then delivers it all to some poor family in need. We would all consider that to be a good deed, an act of charity… well, wouldn’t we?

                                      Give often; give much; but give what is needed!

The answer lies in not only what did the recipients need; but also, what are they prepared and/or capable of receiving and using. Is there a working refrigerator and freezer in the house? Does the family have an operable stove? Are there newborns or young children in the home? Is the person receiving the groceries elderly or in-firmed- are they physically able to store and then prepare the food at the proper time?

If the answer to any of these hypothetical’s is no- or yes, depending on the question; then this very generous act has turned into one which will have little if any real charitable benefit. The donor will leave thinking he has done a great service; leaving the recipient scratching his or her head, and wondering what to do with all of this food. There is no stove; no refrigerator; no freezer; and the baby still has no formula or diapers?

                                                         Where did this all go wrong?

What seems like nit-picking in the preceding example is actually an everyday, albeit over-exaggerated occurrence. Far too often, people among us, who ARE IN NEED, get something… except, they get the wrong thing, something that they either didn’t need or can’t use! This is not a case of “beggars can’t be choosers”, it is just a simple fact. When most of us go to the grocery, we have a list of what WE NEED. The same would hold true for recipients of charity. What is now important is what THEY NEED, and not what we think they might need or want; if only for the fact that such things are normal to the donor.

                                                              What is the solution?

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Photo: St. Mary’s Crescent

Give, please give… give all you can! But, before you give, I would consider contacting the local shelter. Very often these shelters and food pantries are in need of donations and monetary assistance. However, if you still wish to give directly, many of these places and even local churches can provide valuable guidance of what a family would not only be in need of, but also what they can and can’t use! These local resources make it their business to understand the needs of their community, so it might be wise to consult them, and make your dollars count that much more by providing exactly what is needed.

                                     The Gandhi Factor– Give until you KNOW you have given!

If we give only a little bit of ourselves, then sure- you can say that you “gave”, but do you really feel it? It is important to do this the same way that you might do your work, play sports, or even in the way that you provide for your own family… give until you can literally FEEL it! Then you have truly given of yourself.

A story of Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi was given, describing a trip that he took

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once on a train. As it happened, railways were one of the cheaper forms of transportation in India during this time, and Gandhi- as he lived a life of voluntary poverty, traveled cheap. At any rate, on one occasion as he was boarding an already moving train, one of his shoes slipped off, and fell beneath the train. Unable to retrieve it, Gandhi did what came naturally to Gandhi. He took off his remaining shoe, and threw it back, with it landing nearby the first shoe. One of the passengers on the train asked why he had thrown away his only remaining shoe. Gandhi answered that by doing so, the poor man who finds a single shoe along the track, would not have far to go before having a pair of shoes.

At that point, Gandhi no longer had any use for his remaining shoe, and he knew that whomever found the original shoe, and picked it up, would most likely have a tremendous need for the second shoe!

Mahatma Gandhi had given wisely, had given when it was needed most, and had given entirely in spite of his own well-being. While it may have been true that he did not know who, what, or when someone might find the shoes; he did know that whoever found them at whatever time and place– would have found exactly what was needed.