by Father Mark Goldasich
Have you seen The Humane Society of the United States commercial on TV, featuring Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory”? The actress makes a plea for people to end animal cruelty by sending $19 a month, just 63 cents a day, to the Humane Society.
This column, though, is not about the Humane Society or animal cruelty. It’s about what Cuoco says during her ad. The writers of the commercial apparently understand human nature very well. There’s a tendency in many of us to think: “If I can’t do it all, I won’t do anything.” To combat that mindset, the actress says, “If you can’t give $19 a month, don’t worry! Anything you give will be appreciated!”
We need to be reminded over and over again not to underestimate the good that we can do with just a little. Often it’s those small gifts, given by many people, which produce big results.
That’s the philosophy that Nativity House in Kansas City, Kansas, is using to raise funds to expand its services to homeless, pregnant mothers. It’s looking for 2,000 individuals or families to contribute $100 a year to the organization. Broken down, that’s just $8.33 a month or a little more than a quarter a day. Sounds really doable, doesn’t it? (You can read much more about this effort on page 9 of this issue.)
Honestly, there are probably a whole lot more than 2,000 people who can spare $8.33 a month. With a little bit of creativity and a dash of sacrifice, we can assist many more people than we imagine.
One of my favorite ways to save money for charity is actually going on right now in my parish during this Respect Life Month. It’s called the Baby Bottle Boomerang. I’ve written about it before, but I love its simplicity. Parishioners are given a baby bottle to take home and fill with change. At the end of the month, they’ll bring it back to the parish’s Knights of Columbus, who will then deliver the funds to the Wyandotte Pregnancy Center in Kansas City, Kansas. What could be easier than dumping change from your pockets into this baby bottle every day or so? And those coins do add up quickly.
Another suggestion is to have a garage sale. I’ve noticed a lot of them around my neighborhood this time of year. Instead of keeping the profits, though, consider donating them to a worthwhile charity. Not only would you rid your house of items that you no longer want, use or need, but you’d be helping others minister to those in need. It’s a win-win proposition.
I like to eat out . . . a lot. When I want to raise some money for a worthwhile cause, I go to my “one-less” program. I eat out one less time and donate the money that I would have spent on myself — collecting calories that I certainly do not need — to a particular charity. This can easily net $20 or $25. There are all sorts of way to do “one less”: maybe you can forego concessions at the movies and donate that money, or attend one less Chiefs game (that might not be such a sacrifice this year) and donate what you would have spent on parking, or make one less stop at Starbucks each week to save a bundle for the needy.
Earlier this year, one of my parishioners of limited financial means wanted to do something for Nativity House after reading about it in The Leaven. She organized a spaghetti dinner at the parish for a freewill offering. She got almost all of the food donated, recruited kitchen helpers and ended up raising over $1000! I’m sure that the food tasted even better, too, knowing that the proceeds were going to a wonderful ministry.
Sometimes, it’s better not to focus on the big picture, when we tend to see a problem or need as impossible to remedy. Looking instead to small, doable, creative steps shrinks a massive issue into something manageable and, therefore, solvable.
There’s a YouTube video that shows a couple of homeless people, who have been given some food and a little money, willingly share their meager bounty later with others in need. The video had a wonderful message that’s great to ponder during this Respect Life Month:
“The things we get in life can make us a living; the things we give to people can make a life. Never look down on anyone unless you’re helping them up.”
Willingly and generously helping others up is worth much more than $8.33 a month. In fact, it might be our price of admittance into the kingdom of heaven.