Community Chest

It’s that time of year again, where the philanthropist in all of us comes out to give to those around us who are less fortunate than we are. In my recently acquired occupation, I have found countless ways to become involved in the community.

I love building parts of houses for those less fortunate and more deserving than myself. I like doing what I can to map out environmental growth in the mountains to document and send to state representatives to increase the national wilderness area. I enjoy giving hours of my time to pack boxes of food for the homeless, to donate my clothing to Goodwill and Salvation Army, and to simply be more caring around the holiday season. We should be more like this year round, which is something I have been working on the past few years of my life. Dictionary.com defines service as “an act of helpful activity; help; aid: to do someone a service.” It seems so simple to give service to those who need it.

Helping Hands

But for those of us recent graduates, current college students, or even people affected in these economic  down-times, we have a strong desire to contribute our time, talent, and efforts, not funding, to a cause that we believe in. But, the more and more I look into a lot of the organizations I want to get involved with, the more that seem to come outright with the idea that there is going to need to be money given, prior to participation in the organization.

Now, in my opinion (and not just the fact that many consider me to be cheap), I’d love to give as much time as I have to helping work for a cause, but of course I understand that at some point I need to fund raise as well. It’s much easier for someone to contribute to you as a fund collector, if you have personally donated to the cause you believe in. I’m much more into giving my time and efforts towards a cause, than a defined amount of money. Pouring money into a service doesn’t always solve the problems. There needs to be more action, in my opinion.

This include a recent calling of me, along with many others in my company, to take up board positions in local community service organizations in the metro area.  Now, while it seems great that I could help use my passion for a cause to guide an organization that I contribute a lot of my time and effort to, many of the organizations require a minimum financial contribution each year, simply to be on their board (even for the typical 2-year tenure). While some of the 19,000 Denver metro community service organizations (in the metro area alone) simply require 100% participation of board members (I can pay $10, the next guy can pay $50, etc.), others require a far greater financial contribution (one example is $125,000/year).

If I want to make an impact in my community, or help those in need, I don’t have to necessarily contribute financially, but if I want to increase the impact I can have, I need to donate in order to partake. Now, I understand if I was a millionaire and wanted to spend all of my time traveling the world with my wife and kids, I would simply throw a hot $250,000 at an organization I liked and let them go with it. But, I am a recent college grad, with some remaining time on my hands, to contribute to an organization or two that I really care about.

I wish it didn’t have to be that way, but maybe there is still more looking involved. Or maybe there is a need for yet another community service organization that meets the needs of people like me. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

That all being said, this is a call to action to go out and give back to your community with just a little bit of time this holiday season. Chance are  you’ll feel really good about it, and desire the feeling of altruism further down the road. I encourage that.

In terms of what I’m doing this holiday season to give back, I’m planning on looking through all of my clothes, and donating everything that I haven’t worn in a year (which is a lot) to a worthy cause, or selling them at a garage sale or to a store and contributing the money to a good cause that wouldn’t usually accept my clothes (there we go with money again. ironic, no?)

Feel free to share your ideas for the upcoming season. I’m sure I’ll run into more, but it’s important to remember those around us who are less fortunate, equally as fortunate, and even more fortunate than us, at any point in time, not just “times like these”.

Happy Holiday Season!

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~ by trentgillaspie on December 13, 2008.

5 Responses to “Community Chest”

  1. Trent,
    I’ve got a Russian family friend coming to US to visit me. He’s got a family of 5 and is dirt poor. He also has a bunch of connection back home who could utilize the clothes. Consider that it is cold there and clothes is really a must-have. I have to dropped clothes off before, but I never get quite satisfied, as I have no idea whether it reaches the MOST needy recipients. I’ll give my stuff away too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is probably the most well written post yet. I’ve already got my clothes all sorted and ready to go to the Salvation Army. I simply have to get them over there.

    Bravo, Mr. President.

  3. Nice post.

    I would also say that people shouldn’t let something like a minimum donation hold them back. First of all, if you’re a successful young person you could probably contact the non-prof, explain your situation, and potentially get the minimum fee waived. (I would still recommend donating SOME money to show commitment, but that’s another story.)

    I would also say that being on the Board is certainly not the only way to be involved in those things. Especially someone like Trent with myriad skills could do all kinds of volunteer or pro-bono work for the organization.

  4. Great post, Trent.

    I completely agree with you, and I’m a big proponent of donating time when you can’t give money. I think that’s one of the great things about college — we can get so many students to give time, ideas, and blood (Red Cross style, not violence…).

    I want my career to be for the public interest somehow, but for now, I’m going to take your advice and volunteer wherever I can once finals are over tomorrow, and I have lots of clothes I will give away too. I’ve been meaning to for a while now.

    Sounds like you know how to make Christmastime count.

    Merry Christmas!

  5. Here’s a simple website with instructions and places to donate your old clothes!

    http://www.realsimple.com/realsimple/content/0,21770,1043872,00.html

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