Day Seven: Puppies and the Inspirational Power of Donating.
Too often we underestimate the power of giving. Whether it be money, time, or encouragement, when we give even a little, we send out ripples that change the world — and give non-profits a foundation to build on.
A typical day begins at 5:45am, giving a pained glance at my alarm. Reality shouldn’t exist before 9am. I wake up, wire in to some coffee, and head to work. When my lunch break begins, I dart into the staff restroom — it’s no phone booth, I know — and change into my volunteer clothes or Blue Beacon gear. Then I race off to whatever Call to Action I have for the day.
After spending two hours or so making my mark on the community, I rush back home to face the pivotal decision of whether or not I’d prefer to eat or nap. I usually nap. Then I eat in the car as I rush back to work, to finish off the second half of my day. Twelve hours later, at 6:30pm, I hop in the Beacon-mobile and drive home, where I watch a show with Captain Hoodie and prepare to write my nightly blog. Candidly, I’m a lot busier than I realized I would be, and it’s not like I had planned on slacking. There’s just more to it than I realized there would be.
So as I sat down to write tonight’s Mission Update, I was feeling weary. Just as I’d decided to write the blasted thing tomorrow afternoon, my mom called. “Hey, she said. Did you see the $50 donation on your superhero thing?”
“What?? No! Who was it?”
“I don’t know. It was Anonymous.”
Thank you, Anonymous. With that spark, I was able to summon the strength to go ahead and stay awake a little longer to make sure I continue on my mission.
Honestly, we don’t always realize the immense power involved in the simple act of donating. I’ve heard so many world-changers complain, “Organizations always ask for my money, but I don’t want to do something so lazy. I want to give my time! And I want to do it in a big, showy way, changing all the world’s ills and just one, fell swoop of kindness!”
I remember, some years ago, when I fantasized about such notions. I imagined filling a whole moving-truck with dog food, treats, bowls, beds, toys, and anything an animal could want. Then, I was going to drive that Kindness-U-Haul right up to the SPCA with a giant grin and say, “You weren’t expecting me, but these are for you.” SPCA workers would swoon and smile and shout out, “Our hero!”
Today, I didn’t do anything so dazzling. I simply helped create bookmarks painted by the animals, so the SPCA can sell them as a small source of income. Animals create some beautiful pawprint paintings. Jan Hill and Vanessa Budnick found tasks for me and showed me around the shelter. When I told Jill about my youthful U-Haul fantasy, she smiled.
So many volunteers–and Blue Beacon is just as guilty–want to do the glamorous jobs. “An organization,” said Jan, “is not always the glamorous, huge volunteer events. Often, it’s the day in and day out that keeps us afloat.”
It’s the volunteer who comes back week after week to clean the rooms, socialize the dogs, and play with the bunnies that makes the real difference at the SPCA.
Every donation and all volunteers are appreciated. A truck-load of joy would be recognized for the kindness that it is, but the consistent and caring volunteers at the SPCA weave a cautionary tale about the importance of diligence over illustriousness. “People think,” says Jan, “That since they can’t donate $500, they shouldn’t donate at all. That’s not true. We are sustained on the 200 people who give five dollars.”
And don’t think that donating is the “easy way out.” Everyone wants to go shopping for the fancy dog toys, but Jan alerted me to their need for things as simple as hand-sanitizer. The dog toy may be more fun to buy, but your boring hand sanitizer may save a puppy from getting parvo and dying. Your ‘lazy’ online donation helps keep their air conditioner running in the muggy summer. You don’t have to be flashy. Sometimes the least spectacular gifts are the most needed.
These thoughts were rolling around in my head, floating in the cold soup of my tired mind, trying to create a story for today. Then an anonymous donation raised my spirits and pulled me through. The power of giving is real, and it isn’t lazy. It keeps charities alive and running.
In the end, it’s all about giving. Give time. Give money. Give toys. Give an encouraging word, if you have nothing else. We can all give something. We all have the power to change the world. Giving just five bucks, or an hour of your time, could be the spark of inspiration another volunteer or non-profit leader–or even a superhero–needs to keep on giving, too.