Thursday, August 7, 2008

Those who can least afford it quite often end up doing the most good

So today, as I was walking home after pooping out towards the end of my run, I happened to pass by a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk with an empty cup in an extended hand. Nothing new in New York. Nothing particularly remarkable. For some reason or other, though, I decided to make my first contribution to what will likely be a homeless man's evening toddy, but what I hope will be this man's evening meal. 

Now, to be fair, I've donated spare change and dollars before to musicians in subway stations. They always remind me of my brother, which makes me more generous, and I respect that they're trying to use something they love doing any way they can to make a living. Plus, I only contribute to the ones that I find especially entertaining or talented. 

But anyways, I digress. I used to find the idea of giving the homeless my spare change unpalatable at best, mostly because I'm concerned that they'll make poor decisions with it. And they still may. But I've been thinking a lot lately about something my mom said a few weeks back. We were talking about how I've been volunteering my time and money to help stray kittens in the city, even though we're just barely getting by and I could be using the time to nanny more and the money to buy the beautiful clothes that I covet on my street. My mom said something really interesting when she said, "it's quite often those who can least afford it who end up doing the most good." That really got me thinking. True, there are those super-rich who donate a good deal of time and money to charitable ventures. I'm not saying they don't exist (and neither is my mom). But it is quite frequently those who are just barely scraping by who give so much of themselves to help the world around them.

I want to be one of those people. And maybe my spare change paid for booze, but maybe it didn't. Maybe it helped that man. I know it wasn't much, but it made my day.

So this one's for the kittens. And for the people who need our help, too.

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