Posted by: mesabimisadventures | November 26, 2011

31 Days of Giving

A few weeks ago on our drive home, I looked over at Matt and told him (with all sincerity and out of left field), “our problem is that we have too wealthy of friends.”  He raised his eyebrow, but asked two questions – 1) where did that come from and 2) huh? 

I like to tell myself that I’m “evolved” and I’m above competing with those pesky Joneses, that my self-worth and value don’t depend on the home I own or the vehicle I drive or the clothes I wear. 

99% of the time I succeed.

That other 1% of the time can really sting a person though.  As our friends/family build new homes or go on vacations or buy yet another new vehicle, we sometimes look at each other and say, “where are they getting their money from?”  It’s difficult to not want what others have, even if we didn’t realize we wanted those things before they pointed them out to us.  After all, why else would I have spent 6 years in college, if not to live the good life someday?

Oh wait (smacks forehead), I am.

Which ties back to my random statement to Matt.  My perspective has been completely skewed by the reality of my social circle, which extends out to middle-class America in general. 

At a recent work summit, our Sustainability guy (his official title eludes me right now) had us watch the classic “Miniature Earth” video, where the Earth’s population is broken down into 100 people.  It can be humbling if you take the statistics to heart and don’t fall into the trap of being the arrogant American who  feels as though you did something special to deserve the abundance that we have here.

Let’s face it – we were just lucky.  Our souls could have been funneled into another body, somewhere else, somewhere without the gluttony of America.  Somewhere where my fits of envy would be provoked by someone having a pair of shoes versus a more expensive pair.

So where does that leave me, other than shaking off the insanity of thinking I have to keep up with my neighbors?  It leaves me in a place where I recognize that this is the time of year where we really do need to focus on giving thanks for the blessings we have and for sharing our blessings with others who genuinely do need them.  I may not be the 1% the OWS protestors are going after, but dammit, my peers and I aren’t exactly hurting either.  So let’s shake off our self-pity at not being in the 1% and think about what we can do this holiday season to help out the folks on the Range, in Minnesota and around the world who would be thankful to be in our shoes, even if they aren’t Christian Louboutin.

During the month of December, I will be blogging about a different opportunity to give back to the world and either donating money, time or a material good (I knew I could find a home for my old bridesmaid dresses!) every day.  My challenge to all of you is to look honestly at your finances and your time commitments and ask yourself what you can give up this month – is it a few cups of over-priced coffee, barely worn sweaters that you really don’t look so great in anyways, a few hours away from the television to go shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk?  Share your ideas or your favorite charities with me in the comments.  Brag about what you did to break the materialistic chains that bind you.  Let’s have 31 days of giving on the Iron Range to end 2011 in style.

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Responses

  1. Our extended family started giving to various charities in the names of other people. Because our church group just traveled to Guatemala to volunteer, I’m continuing to support http://www.godschild.org/ My husband has checked this out twice, first hand, and is very impressed with what they do.

    • Thank you very much for the suggestion! It’s on the list!

  2. We gave last year to 6 different charities. We expect to give to the same or similar charities this year. I am NOT bragging. They include: 1) Cancer Society of America; 2) Habitat for Humanity; 3) Aurora (?) Food Bank; 4) Contented Critters; 5) United Way (with restrictions); and, 6) Human Society. This is a family thing. I write the check, my wife addresses the envelopes, my son licks and stamps, sitting around the table generally after putting up the Christmas tree or just to get into the giving spirit. It’s a family affair! 🙂

    Does it say something about our giving that 2 out of the 6 are to animals? We DO NOT give to the Boy Scouts and restrict United Way distribution so our donation does NOT go to the Boy Scouts. This is because you MUST be a christian to be a Boy Scout (according to their rules). . . although they will let you in and take your money if you are not. I shy away from donations to religious based organizations. Although I have noticed that some may be locally based through a church organization (Habitate for Humanity?). Guess a church based organization can do a good job screening for those that need the help, but I do not want the help (our donation) limited to those of a given faith or religious belief.

    The donations last year were not small by my reckoning, but were not large I suppose compared to others. I always buy the buttons for things such as the Minnesota Special Olympics and the poppys for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, etc. Fund raising cans for medical costs located in you local restaurant are also a favorite of mine. No administration or management fees. I/we DO NOT give when solicited via the telephone. It is fun to watch others when they see you stuff money in the firemans boot or coffee can, or buy a button. More times than not others respond by buying a button or putting money in the can after seeing you . . . guess they feel guilty or are they just reminded?

    This is my first resonse to your blog. Please keep writing.

    • Thank you for the comment Dennis and don’t worry, I don’t consider it bragging. I consider it positive peer pressure 😉

      If you’re like me, you donate to the animal groups because animals don’t have a social support system other than us humans and usually it was humans who put them in the predicament they’re in. I think of when I picked up Oliver from Contented Critters and they told me that his formers owners gave him up because they didn’t want to take him to the vet. Worked out well for him and us, but I still think it’s unfortunate that some humans don’t recognize the responsibility of an animal before they get one.

      I’m glad United Way changed their system to allow folks to opt out of donating to groups whose mission they didn’t agree with – I know it increased my desire to give to them.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to write and share what your family strategy is for donating throughout the year. 🙂

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