The Gift of Giving

I am thankful and blessed to be comfortable in this life. Yes, I and my wife have worked hard for what we have and we are not spendthrifts in any sense of the word, but I know there are many people far worse off than we are.

I have been and probably still am to a certain extent “tight with money.” I suppose that comes from my parents always fighting over money when I was young — and I mean fighting — get down, drag out shouting matches. Early on when I was first out in the world on my own — college, then the US Air Force — I kept a fairly tight control of my finances. I guess I could have enjoyed some of that money I saved more like some of my buds, but that was me.

When it comes to giving, charities, and the like, I have my moments. Interestingly, often my wife will ask me — “I want to give something to such and such a charity,” then she asks how much she should give. Often I tell her an amount more than she was thinking, but we both are also often on the same page.

However, I am far more likely to give in other ways because money is still difficult for me to part with. If you haven’t discovered all of these, here are some ideas for giving that don’t involve giving money directly (and I’m always open to new ideas!

  • Your time — I have done this off and on and could do more of this. Think about Habitat for Humanity and other similar organizations (I worked on building houses after Katrina); hospitals always like volunteers, other organizations, or just helping a neighbor out
  • Stuff — I give lots of “stuff”
    • Things I have accumulated — I once gave a ton of musical instruments, parts, accessories, etc. to the local school district when I shut down a repair business I had done for years. Good for them, good for me. I bet you have this kind of “stuff” laying around too.
    • Books, kitchen supplies, videos, dvds, cds, household, even furniture, cars, and so on. Much of that “stuff” is useable and needed. We all accumulate “stuff” in our houses that we don’t use. Go on a rampage and clean out some of that “stuff” and give it to where it will help others: Good Will, Salvation Army, Purple Heart, etc. What’s your favorite charitable organization?
    • Clothing — Good, clean clothing is always welcome.
  • Garage sales, auctions, and so on: I love garage sales, auctions, storage units, and places I can buy tons of “stuff” for almost nothing. I’ll often buy boxes of “stuff” for not much money and after I’ve gone through it I’ll take out a few things I can use, throw out the junk, and clean up the rest to donate. A great adventure, I have fun, and it benefits me and others!!! What’s not to like.
  • More time — have a skill? a talent? I have given speeches for organizations, played my violin, worked — I have handyman skills, and so on. You wouldn’t believe how much this can help out: hospices and what we used to call “old folks homes” (I’m sure there is a better term these days), charitable supporting organizations like Rotary, Lions Club, etc.
  • On-line — There are ways to donate your talents on-line as well. Search the web for opportunities.
  • Give something of yourself — As you know, I write and publish my own books. I almost always carry copies with me and give them to people when I see an opportunity: one of my favorites is giving a book to someone who I see doing something nice for someone else.
What I’m really talking about here is giving the gift of YOU! It really is that simple and it becomes fun when it is “YOUR” gift. If you’re like me, money is still a bit difficult to part with, though my wife and I do have our favorite charities and always try to expand a bit in other directions every year. Giving from yourself and your talents is easier sometimes than parting with that hard-earned cash, and it can be loads of fun. It’s not even too late for this Holiday season (which, “hint, hint” doesn’t end with Christmas). Not to mention the fact that there is a whole New Year ahead — start early!
Joe Koob
P.S. Happy Holidays
P.P.S. Much of the above is also tax deductible; what’s not to like!



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