Columbia, SC — ‘IT IS MORE blessed to give than to receive.”
These words attributed to Jesus in Acts 20:35 compel many of us to share our treasure with fellow citizens in need.
And by need I’m not just talking about financial woes, a shortage of food or lack of housing. For sure, those rank atop many people’s lists of concerns. But there are also those who need better educational opportunities, job training or health screenings, among other things.
Fortunately, there are many charities, nonprofits and other organizations in our community and across the country also driven by the blessedness of giving. Many of them came together last week to celebrate National Philanthropy Week, during which they highlighted their admirable work and outlined the need for all of us to continue to contribute in any way we can to help keep our communities healthy and whole, physically, mentally, financially and otherwise.
Our community faces tremendous — and growing — social and human-service challenges. Government is neither able nor meant to address them all. That’s where charities, nonprofits and individuals (this means you) step in to help. If not for them, many important and meaningful services and programs, some of which are taken for granted, would not exist.
I spent much of my pre-teen and teen years at the neighborhood Boys Club. Little did I know that it was a United Way-supported entity — funded through donations from individual and corporate citizens in this community — that was keeping me off the street and out of trouble.
I’m grateful to have an opportunity to give back to the United Way and watch as it and other organizations leverage the collective philanthropic heart of this community to address some of our most pressing problems.
They’re expending millions in the effort, whether it’s the United Way supporting groups and programs that help improve education, financial stability and health or the Nord Family Foundation helping bolster efforts in the arts, culture and civic affairs or the Central Carolina Community Foundation taking on illiteracy or BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina helping improve health care.
Individual and corporate donors and the organizations they support provide an invaluable safety net for this community. With the economy having tanked during the Great Recession and remaining sluggish afterward, we’ve got far more people in need — some who never thought such a day would come — than we typically have seen in decades.
Fortunately, we have organizations that work tirelessly to help meet the extraordinary need. Without them, our community would be a lot poorer, a lot less healthy, a lot less educated.
It’s only fitting that the week before Thanksgiving gave us the opportunity to focus on philanthropy: This week kicks off the time of year when many people are extra sensitive to the needs of others.
As they do this time every year, many churches, groups and individuals reached out to ensure that the homeless and less-fortunate families were able to enjoy a festive meal on Thursday; some even made sure they had food for the next week or so. And many organizations and individuals are gearing up to serve as angels for needy children and families at Christmas.
But what happens when the holidays — and the ultra-giving spirit they bring — are over? Who will help feed those in need? Who will help warm cold homes or keep the electricity on or provide housing? Who will sponsor health screenings or support cultural or arts programs?
While we will certainly look to the United Way and the Nord Family Foundation and others to lead the way, the fact is that we all must be among those who help provide for the needs of our neighbors.
Our community needs all of us to be contributors year round and not just during the holidays. Fortunately, our nonprofits and charities help remind us that they need our assistance. If Harvest Hope Food Bank is running low, it’s not bashful about asking; and we shouldn’t be slow about responding.
So, even if you helped feed a family for Thanksgiving, don’t blow all your money on Black Friday shopping. Put a few dollars aside to help someone at Christmastime — and beyond.
It’s true: Christmas (and Thanksgiving) comes but once a year.
But it’s also true that people are in need and hurting year round.
You can help. Adopt a family, give to Harvest Hope or Oliver Gospel Mission. Donate to the United Way or a community foundation. Regardless the size of your donation, there is a need that it can help meet.
Just unleash the philanthropist in you. When you do, the resulting good — a family fed, a child taught, a job seeker employed — will invariably give you a wonderful feeling. A “more blessed” feeling, really. You wouldn’t feel better if someone walked up and gave you a gift.
Reach Mr. Bolton, author of “God Is Grace: Lessons to a Father from a Son,” at (803) 771-8631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.