Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Look Around

It seems this time of year brings out the generosity in folks.  Most of us put a little something in that red kettle as we smile at the bell ringer. Others actually take time to read the plethora of donation requests from various organizations they received in the mail. Some even consider what, if anything, to give. We might tuck a modest check into the return envelope and enjoy the momentary satisfaction of giving to a cause bigger than ourselves, then the rest of the year it's every man/woman for themselves!

When you talk to Joe Average, he says he doesn't have money to spare except, well, maybe he can spare some change at Christmas. After all, he says, there are so many starving children in Africa, any donation he might give would be like a drop in the ocean so what's the point?  It really won't help and everyone knows the CEO's of most of those charity organizations dip their greedy little fingers into the pot so just a few cents on the dollar actually reaches the needy. Right?

So what, in this tight economy, when folks are being laid off or hours and salaries are being cut back, can we do to make our little corner of the world a better place?  How can we leave this earth a little brighter because we lived?  How can we extend that warm glow we get when we go out of our way to give to the less fortunate during the holidays?

The answer isn't necessarily giving money to huge charities. Most of us don't have it to spare! The answer is very simple. Look around you. Notice the single mother at your kid's school, trying her best to juggle a job and the endless important obligations that go along with being a good parent.  You think she might appreciate her yard being raked?  Or maybe she might be delighted to have you watch her kids for a few hours so she can have a little time to herself, for once?  What kind of wonder would you see in her weary eyes if you offered your help?

What about the little old widower two houses down the street?  You know his wife passed away a year or two ago and his kids and grand-kids are spread all over the country; how about inviting him for a home cooked meal at your table, with all its chatter and chaos from kids and pets vying for attention?  Can you imagine for just a minute, the memories that meal would bring back to him? The loneliness that would be pushed aside for an hour or two because of your kindness?

Whether you are a serious follower of Christ or not, we all know life can be a dark, scary, lonely place. You don't have to go to Africa or Haiti to find people in need. They are all around us and if you just open our eyes, you'll see opportunity after opportunity to brighten the day and lives of those outside of your own family.

As you become more aware, don't let the needs and circumstances of others overwhelm you!  It's very easy to see the misfortune of others and let it get you down. You CAN make a difference in your little corner! You really can!

You can enjoy that warm, satisfied feeling of giving to others all year 'round. Don't wait for the holidays to do something!  There are so many people that would greatly benefit from your help. You might end up being a real hero or friend to someone who is suffering from a desperate need or broken heart. It's so easy to do. Don't worry about your wallet! Money is tight for everyone. Open your eyes and look for opportunities.

Again, you don't have to save the world to make a difference! Just look further than your front door and get to the beautiful business of giving!

Happy New Year, everyone!

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