Recently my family and I were fortunate to be involved in the creation of a Habitat House. We watched the house being built–we were on the sponsoring side rather than the building side–and, every week, seeing the house take form was a wonderful thing. It got me thinking about giving and what people give–time, money, ideas, energy–to.
I’m not a religious person and thus do not tithe and am not involved at a church. But I love being a volunteer and have done everything from coaching little kids soccer to chairing the governing committee at my children’s high school. Currently I serve on the Board of my local YMCA and, as a small business owner, try and support many of my town’s charitable events.
For me, being a donor, whether it’s of time or money, is one of my favorite things to find the time and resources to do. I believe that giving of oneself is the best way possible to combat the despair that comes with reading the morning paper. Yes, things are flagrantly awful in Africa, but by being a Kiva participant, I can blunt my sense of helplessness. I find I fret less about the stresses humanity places on our planet when I clean up the trash in my city’s streams. And I am more comfortable with the giving hand I’ve been dealt when I work to help those who haven’t my good fortune.
I am not alone. According reports from the American Association of Fundraising Counsel and Volunteering in America, in 2010 Americans gave more than $290.89 billion to their favorite causes and spent over 8.1 billion hours volunteering. To know this gladdens my heart.
So to all who volunteer and give, wherever you live, thank you. You are truly making the world a better place. And if you feel comfortable, I’d love to know what causes call to you. And if you’re not a volunteer now, it’s probably because your every day life is just too demanding. That’s fine too.