My first experience of philanthropy was at North Country School in 7th grade. The co-founders, Walter and Leo Clark, taught us to care for our environment by turning out lights when we left our rooms, turning off water while brushing our teeth, and recycling food through composting and feeding scraps to animals. We also saved some of the leftover food to put in our Wednesday midday soup. Instead of a more robust meal like meat and potatoes, we merely had soup and bread.
“Starvation lunch,” as we called it, taught us two things. First, it helped us feel what it was like to go hungry and to empathize with people who feel hunger on a regular basis. Second, we learned to think about how we could help others less fortunate than us.
The money we saved from our weekly soup lunch was put into a philanthropy fund. We took turns throughout the year researching different causes. A committee was formed to present the top five to all students and faculty. After ample questions and debate around each cause, we took a vote. During my first year, we sent our money to the Good Ship Hope. I felt personally and physically invested in our common cause.
As Thanksgiving approaches, it seems like a good time to count our blessings, and think about how we can make a difference in the lives of others less fortunate than us. It doesn’t have to be money. Showing we care can be the greatest gift.
Every day I reach out to one friend or another, by phone, email, or in person. Recently I wrote an email to a friend who’s feeling worried about her daughter, sent a book to a relative who’s battling cancer, and called another friend whose husband has been really depressed. Sometimes I see a stranger looking sad, and say hello. Showing I care, in large or small ways, feels good. It’s simple. Caring is the first step towards abundance of soul.
What are some recent examples of how you showed you care?