Saturday, January 16, 2010

Helping Out, Part One

I'm not a big believer in New Year's resolutions. Overall, I think they have a tendency to be made too big and sweeping to be practical, so people fail to keep them, then feel bad about failing to keep them. Nothing but a round on the ol' negativity wheel and really - who needs that?

But I had thought that I'd like to write once a month about some way to improve the life of others. In my experience most of us want to help make our communities better places to live and work, but we're not entirely sure about how to accomplish that. There are many small things that we can do and I had wanted to devote some space throughout this year to making some of them better known and (to be truthful) use them as a jumpstart for my own actions. For instance, I'm dropping off a box of clothes and household items with Goodwill, who does great work in my community.

Then there was an earthquake in Haiti. A big one.

What to do in the face of such overwhelming tragedy? The sheer scope of the terror and misery is bone-cracking. Not many of us can (or are willing to) pack up and head into Port-au-Prince to move bricks and ladle soup, but we want to do something. Good.

First, don't be put off by thinking, "What's the use? I only have a few bucks and that won't do any good when the problem is so big." Au contraire and nonsense. Drops of water are small things, but get enough of them together and you get an ocean.

Second, don't be put off by thinking, "The money won't even get to the people who need it anyway." Sure, you need to be careful about who you send money to, but I can heartily recommend both the American Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, both of whom do great work on a daily basis and really kick it up three notches when disaster hits.

Third, don't be put off by thinking, "I don't even have a few bucks to donate." Fine - look around your own backyard. Take some clean, old clothes to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Throw three composition books and a pack of pencils in your cart and drop them off at the closest elementary school - they'll know how to get them to a kid who needs them.

We can make the world better. Even if it's only a tiny little bit, doing something beats the everliving snot out of doing nothing.

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