02 January 2013

The universe is sending messages constantly, we just aren’t always tuned in to the right frequency. This was waiting for me in my email inbox this morning from my sister, who has been one of my biggest supporters in my decision to start this undertaking. It's from a great website called DailyOM. The post was called “Part of the Whole.” 
“...Performing selfless philanthropic service allows you to work toward making the world a better place while reinforcing your connection with humanity. Many people fail to give charitably because they fear that one individual’s contribution will have little impact on the state of the planet and the plight of those in need. When you give freely of your time, money, and effort, however, your gift becomes a valuable part of a larger worldwide effort to improve conditions of living beings everywhere. As you see how your gift has been put to use or has positively affected others, you’ll know beyond a doubt that you are an essential part of humanity’s struggle for change. The selfless service you devote yourself to today will help you express your benevolent impulses.”

The first time I read it, I noticed some grammatical mistakes...once an editor, always an editor. I took the liberty of fixing those in what I copied over, got out of manager-of-the-world mode, and looked at the bigger picture:  We are all in this together and any good surely helps contribute to all good. 

Today I’m donating $10 to The Giving Spirit. My friend Lucy turned me on to this small Los Angeles-based organization last year. Twice a year, we gather together at a local church that donates its fellowship hall to stuff backpacks and duffel bags and distribute the “survival kits" to the homeless. In addition to non-perishable food items, the packs also include basic toiletries the homeless can use without having to access a bathroom, including wipes, toothbrushes, deodorant, a comb, etc. TGS works with a number of Los Angeles’ shelters, but there’s room for  less than 20,000 of Los Angeles’ more than 60,000 homeless in the shelters, so TGS volunteers also drive around and distribute the bags to homeless people they see on the street. Like so many worthwhile organizations, they work minor miracles with an incredible paucity of funds and no paid staff.  They fell $30,000 short of their 2012 goal. I helped stuff backpacks in the spring, but wasn’t able to go to the winter collection and although I’ve already given to them this winter, when I saw the plea for help, I decided to chip in $10 more.

*A little side benefit: As I was writing this and feeling all warm inside, I got an unrelated email that got my hackles up for an extremely petty and ego-filled reason. I decided to ignore it and go on with my donating. Sense of calm restored. I really hope that happens a lot during this year. Maybe instead of starting my day with the donation, I'll wait until I've gotten a self-righteous, indignant, totally useless head of steam up about something ultimately pointless and insignificant, and then take a break and make the donation. Donating as therapy.

**: Thank you to all the great and worthy causes so many of you have already suggested. I've started a list. I have very good, generous, philanthropic friends!

Jan. 2: The Giving Spirit http://www.thegivingspirit.com/

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