Should we give a little more?

2011-02-28 00:00

ONE of our problems is that we live in a country in which the needs are boundless and we get givers' fatigue. While many of us would like to be a little more generous we become overwhelmed and anxious about choosing a target area to donate to. On the one hand we are told to fight the HIV-Aids pandemic, and on the other there is malnutrition, a crying need for rural school development and 101 other ways in which poverty should be confronted. What does one do?

Remind yourself that every

little bit helps and do some research to ensure that your

money goes where you want it to go. There are many organisations that will be very grateful for anything you can give them. Many people select a charity and organise a monthly stop order on their salaries, which takes care of both conscience and


Bear in mind that donations don't always have to be cash. Do you have access to factory over- runs or slightly damaged products? The Salvation Army has sales to raise money and it is usually grateful for items to sell, provided people don't see it as an opportunity to offload old junk. I know a group of women who make peanut butter sandwiches for an under-privileged preschool. They take it in turns, the cost is minimal and the sandwiches go down very well, as you can imagine.

The old saying that charity begins at home springs to mind. How much do you know about the lives of your domestic workers? Does the woman who works in your home have an ailing mother or sister? If she does perhaps you can help with the medication or with getting her to the clinic. If the man working in your garden has a teenage boy at school, don't overlook the fact that shoes, books and stationery are costing him a fortune too. If you can't afford to help him

financially, perhaps you know where he can get what the boy needs at more reasonable prices. There are so many ways to help.

If you make charity a family affair it could make giving a lifelong habit for your offspring. Tell them what you are doing and why you are doing it because they need to realise from an early age that helping others is good. I know a family who take the children to the toy

cupboard when they get something new and ask them if they are prepared to donate any of their older toys to someone or to a preschool that might appreciate them.

Two more ideas might not be too popular. Keep some change in your pocket, your handbag or your car tray for that occasional beggar. They are not all drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals and rapists and, contrary to popular belief, very few of them have a Mercedes-Benz parked around the corner. Most of them are desperate, sad brothers and

sisters and your tiny donation on a particular day might just tip the scale for them one way or the other.

Finally, what about the occasions when we often give presents? We all like to receive gifts, but these events can provide a wonderful opportunity to give a little. Weddings and 21st birthdays are perhaps excluded, but what about asking for donations to a charity like Hospice instead of the present on other occasions? This would let guests off the hook about having to choose a gift, the charity would benefit and the celebrant might not end up with a(nother) useless present.

Some of us could probably give a little more.

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