Tag: charity

The Giving Season

Both Christianity and Judaism have similar beliefs regarding charity. Aside from the usual,”God loves a cheerful giver”, the manner or application of the act is as important as the act itself. In order to ensure that the real motivation is charity and not self-aggrandizement both the Bible and the Torah require anonymity. “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”. Maimonides, a preeminent Jewish philosopher did one better:

Maimonides says that, while the second highest form of tzedakah is to anonymously give donations to unknown recipients, the highest form is to give a gift, loan, or partnership that will result in the recipient supporting himself instead of living upon others.

For reasons that run the gamut, from magnanimity to guilt, the Christmas season brings out the giver in all of us. Images of the Salvation Army Santa in front of department stores come readily to mind, food drives, toys for tots, church donations, even the big time charities expect major donations this time of year. But some like to cut out the middle man and give directly:

At Kmart stores across the country, Santa seems to be getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers’ layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn’t afford, especially toys and children’s clothes set aside by impoverished parents.

Before she left the store Tuesday evening, the Indianapolis woman in her mid-40s had paid the layaway orders for as many as 50 people. On the way out, she handed out $50 bills and paid for two carts of toys for a woman in line at the cash register.

“She was doing it in the memory of her husband who had just died, and she said she wasn’t going to be able to spend it and wanted to make people happy with it,” Deppe said. The woman did not identify herself and only asked people to “remember Ben,” an apparent reference to her husband.

It is hard to criticize charity is this manner. Although this may not be the best bang for your buck (toys or presents geared for kids, sure, but plasma screen TV’s, 12 year old bottles of Scotch, or a new ipad? not sure about that). The other point being that it’s hard to say if these purchases really helped somebody poor or struggling, but I guess if they are using “layaway”, I didn’t know they still had that, they probably qualify. But it is her money so good for her.

My wife’s favorite Christmas movie is The Bishop’s Wife, which we watch every year, the story of a rich widow bent on building the biggest Cathedral as a monument to her late husband, but she and all those involved comes to realize that helping the poor, sick, and needy would be a much better use of her money then one grandiose gesture.

S.A. Santa’s on the west coast have it easy due to our mild weather, but for you guys in the mid west or on the east coast, next time you pass one ringing his bell, bring him a coffee, hopefully with a splash of brandy in it.

Charity bleg – Tour de Cure 2011

Tour de Cure

Photo credit: Nessie Photography - http://flic.kr/p/9LMdNw

Some of you may have wondered why I haven’t “passed the hat” yet. Well, partly because I hate doing it, and mainly I knew I was going to post this soon. I’d rather the hat get passed for this.
I’m riding the Tour de Cure event in North Haven, CT this year. Hoping for the metric century (100K/62-ish miles, although the route they have mapped out is more like 73!). If you’d like to sponsor my ride to help fight diabetes,you can donate online here.

While I share the belief of many that large charity organizations are at best top-heavy, the main goal of the American Diabetic Association is to inform & educate people with diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions. This is the kind of mission that can only be done by a large group with good name recognition. I only have four charities that I truly care about, and this is one of them.

As you may know, as we age the risk for getting Type II diabetes increases dramatically even when we do everything right, and our population as a whole is trending older and older each year. But, did you also know that one of the largest growing segments of Type II diabetes patients is now children? Type II used to be called “Adult Onset” diabetes. Now that so many more children are getting this disease each year, the medical community has dropped that name. So many kids get what was an adult disease, doctors have dropped the “adult” part. The American Diabetic Association can do a lot of good by educating children and parents as to how they can fight off Type II diabetes, and that’s why I am supporting them. I’m asking for your help as well.

The North Haven Tour de Cure is June 12th. You can donate anytime, but I need to raise $150 by the 11th or they won’t let me ride. It’s a good cause. One that can actually reduce health costs to society in the aggregate if they can spread the message of education. On top of that, we’re all likely to at least flirt with Type II diabetes if we live long enough. In my opinion, it actually benefits us all to support this particular organization…and what’s a better motivation than self-interest?