Monday, January 18, 2010

...But At Times Widen Your View

Charity may begin at home...but for me, sometimes I need to widen my view.

Like Lisabet, I had been prepared to come into this topic discussing my own fashion of contributing back to the society in which I live. And I discovered an interesting thing about myself; almost all of the causes to which I've leant support have been ones with mostly a local or regional impact.

I've contributed my time to tutoring children who need help with reading, volunteered to SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter & Vandalism) clean-up days, and planted trees on Earth Day in local parks and wetlands. I've donated food to the Oregon Food Bank, donated blood to the Red Cross, and supported local women's shelters with donations of interview suits and clothing. I've given computers to be recycled, revamped and sold. I provide coats in the winter, toys at the holidays, and stuffed animals to the police and fire departments.

All good causes, and I don't regret a single one. But sometimes I "forget" there is a whole world full of people who endure a daily struggle for basic needs. And a tragedy like the the ongoing recovery in Haiti just knocks me off my safe and secure stance. Very humbling to remember how blessed I am and that I can extend my help to outside my own little sphere.

Is there an event or story that really caused you to do some self-examination? Like Lisabet, I am going to add $1 to my Mercy Corps donation for every answer or observation I receive in reply to this post. Thanks for the idea Lisabet, and thank you in advance to commenters.


  1. Hello, Devon,

    I think that in some ways local charity has more of an impact. Anyway, we don't have to make a choice. We simply do what we can or what we are moved to do.

    Thanks for picking up on my idea! This is great.


  2. I had honestly never thought about where I focus my charitable time and you are right...It is all local. This post really opened my minds eye to the rest of the world. Thank you!

  3. The tsunami that hit the Pacific Rim a few years ago had that effect for me. My husband is from India and his great-uncle is a priest in Sri Lanka. His uncle was not hurt in the tsunami, but he lost many parishioners, and had others who survived but lost everything. Definitely one of those eye-opening moments for me.

  4. It's at times like these that make me realise how fortunate and gifted we are to live in a free society with more than enough of the basics, never mind the luxuries. My heart goes out to the people in Haiti and to all their friends and families that live elsewhere and whose hearts are not breaking.

    Hats off to you ladies for your generosity and thoughtfulness. And now a trip to my bank where they're collecting money for these people.

  5. Local charities have the added bonus that more of the money is channeled to the charity itself, rather than into the administration and distribution of it, but it's certainly true that in times like this, it's necessary to find a way to help out and target specific places farther away that require immediate assistance.

    Thank you for your thoughts! As always, I find that someone else's blog might just be the catalyst I need. I'm often complacent because I donate through my church, and it allows me to specify where I want the money to go, and also, I have pet charities like HRC, Habitat for Humanity and the Heifer Project that are more targeted for things I hold pretty sacred.

    Still, there isn't really enough one can do to help out in a disaster such as Haiti's awful earthquake and I'd like to find a multi-pronged way to help out, because relief is going to have to be given over a long period of time in order for it to make a lasting and sustainable difference. I'd like to think of my own meager efforts in this as a long-term commitment rather than an immediate one.

    At least there doesn't seem to be a shortage of immediate needs to pick from, so I can certainly do something right away.

  6. I think for me it was something of the opposite: starting with a period of activism in college, I tended to give money and time to national and international organizations.

    Last year, I stopped to talk to a homeless man who was holding a sign I thought was hilarious. "That's worth a dollar," I said, giving him one. We struck up a friendship after that. I was coming out of a rough time myself, which I'll spare you the details of, and got through it thanks mainly to friends--including one who gave me somewhere to live. Becoming friends with Jeremy and watching him struggle and struggle gave me an appreciation for how lucky I'd been, and a new compassion for others who weren't so fortunate. And that's when I started giving to local organizations, specifically shelters.

    One isn't better than the other, of course! I just think it's wonderful so many people give of themselves.

  7. Wonderful, thought-provoking post Devon! It's truly uplifting to see so many people work together to help others in need. I tell my students that the smallest gestures can have huge impacts. We recently had a food drive, and what really touched me was that many students whose families couldn't really afford to donate anything managed to bring in something. For most of of us, that would be a small sacrifice, but for them it was huge. It truly humbled me. No matter what the charity or need, every little bit helps.

  8. I love that you're doing this, and I adore your kind heart. The majority of the organizations I support are all local - with the exception of the American SIDS Institute.

    But when something like this happens, you can't help but reach farther. When we got home from school today, my 12 year old immediately went to the pantry and started pulling out food. When I asked him what he was doing, he said he was gathering food to bring to school to send to Haiti. Then he went upstairs and started bagging up some of his clothes. I told him that I was so proud of him for wanting to help. He looked at me and said, "We have everything, those people don't have anything. We *have* to help them." Well said, Corwin. Well said.

  9. Lisabet, it's a lovely idea and kudos to you for thinking of it.

    And yes, being moved by a cause is ultimately most important.

  10. Hi Candance,

    Thank you for stopping by! I always appreciate knowing when something I've written makes in impression!

  11. Yes, Ariel, that would be a very personal face to put on a massive tragedy. That must've been very difficult for your family.

  12. Hi Kath, thank you so much for coming by to show your support as well! Always good to see you.

  13. "As always, I find that someone else's blog might just be the catalyst I need."

    ZAM, you hit the nail on the head. Writing, in any form, really resonates with me. And in recent years I've found I can really connect with the editorial format of blogging in a way the popular media doesn't.

  14. Hi Mal, the personal touch of giving is wonderful and can have such direct and immediate results. I can totally appreciate your move in a more local direction after helping Jeremy. Thanks for your story, very touching.

  15. Hi Eyre, I agree it's heartening to see those who can least afford it be generous with those who need it even slightly more than they. I imagine they empathize more directly and know how much help is needed. Always enjoy your comments love.

  16. Bron, you are definitely raising your kids right, and I love hearing about your boys and their views on things. :)

  17. Devon,

    A wonderful post, and a delightful insight into a writer who is clearly a caring and compassionate individual.



  18. This is a wonderful and warm post! Great idea to let us commenters 'participate' in this too :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for being such a giving person! *hugs*


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.