Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Season of Giving - The Charity Choosing

Social causes – ribbons and charities abound in our world. One can hardly round a corner without being reminded by the side of a bus or the side of a milk carton that poverty exists and that the need for childhood help phones is sadly required. At every turn there are people collecting money, asking for support, spreading awareness and looking for air time in the valuable name of their cause. Every day I receive messages, letters, mail, links through friends, facebook, twitter and email to causes that need recognition and support. There is no doubt that each is worthy, deserving of every penny they acquire, each snippet of publicity they garner and every message requesting support. Social and humanitarian aid is the emotional factor that draws us together, providing commonality of circumstance. It is the thing that says “we are on the same team”
With so much need and so many agencies, programs, research and awareness campaigns vying for attention how do you choose?
Some people choose because they have $5 in their pocket when the canvasser knocks on the door. Others choose by way of group consensus; collections at the office, church or school.  There are folks who make their choice by the opportunity to profit through prize pools, houses, cars and other luxuries.  An increasing portion of the population is choosing based on fashion, causes that are trending among social circles.
I find myself more and more, upon receiving appeals, from friends, family, acquaintances and social suggestion, wondering about the rationale behind the messages. What was the deciding factor, Why this charity, with a slew to choose from…why this one? I wonder if people think the same thing when they receive a request attached to my name or avatar.
Here is my take (and perhaps a little insight as to why I never forwarded your appeal to my entire contacts list, friends list or followers).
I have a way of choosing the charities I support; I want to believe that it is the same method used by the social majority in their personal selection process. I choose with my heart.
I Support the Food Bank because they filled my stomach during some dark days of childhood and have fuelled the tummies of other family members too in the years since.
I support the Heart and Stoke Foundation because their research saves lives including those of my father, grandfather, uncle and friend.
When I spread awareness to end Domestic & Family Violence, I do so in memory of my very good friend who didn’t need for her life to end this way.
If you get a message from me about Suicide Prevention and Depression, know that I do it in honour of a young man who couldn’t hang on and a family member who by the grace of God is learning that there is much to hang on to and out for, and who I pray every day doesn’t ever forget.
The request of support for Sick kids Hospitals is my way of saying thank you to them for saving the lives of 3 tiny relatives (more than once) and easing the fear in our own immediate family.
The Cancer Society receives my support in memory of friends who have lost their battles, grandmothers and brothers who didn’t and friends who are still waiting to see which ending their story will get.
I ask you to dig in your pocket to help out Homeless Teens because my children have asked us to share our home with their friends on the brink of circumstance and I witness adults that I knew in those same circumstances as a teenager. Some have better lives, some do not.
When I send out an appeal for understanding on Mental Health, know that anxiety ruled every aspect of my life for much much longer than it had a right to – that message comes to you in celebration of triumph and in hope for those still suffering.
The Canadian Diabetes Association has the power to aid my Stepfather greater today than it did my Grandmother 30 years ago through ongoing research and support. They have mine.
The Canadian Legion represents my family’s Uncles, Grandfathers and Brothers. The Legion is a comfort and support for my father and was a cause supported with passion by my Grandmother.
I will always forward pieces about Anti-Bullying, because my kids and hundreds like them need to know that there is someone in their corner.
I wish that I could support every charity, share the message of every cause that crossed my inbox or landed in my social feed. Truthfully there are just too many, a reality which by its very existence is saddening.  So I choose, I choose with my heart and I don’t forward or make appeals on behalf of any cause that does not fit my selection criteria. Does that sound harsh? Perhaps, but I believe in granting weight to my words. If you receive a forward, follow, link, or support request attached to my name be assured that it comes from my heart it is born of gratitude; gratitude for Help, for hope for healing.
While you look for places to bestow those year-end charitable giving dollars, when your inbox fills up with awareness appeals, as you select charity gifts for people on your list, choose with your heart. It is easy to throw money at something, quick to like a status, pass along cause awareness or click to share a link. Do it with your heart, with gratitude.
To the thousands of worthy charities not on my list, I pray you never land on it but you can expect the same commitment should it happen.
Spend some moment everyday in reflection of gratitude and happiness. Even if the time found is standing in line for coffee...use is wisely.