COLUMN: Charity comes from the heart

It’s the season of giving, while recognizing and appreciating what and who we have in our lives

It’s the season of giving, while recognizing and appreciating what and who we have in our lives.

Most of us are fortunate. While we may not have everything, we do have enough.

Every community seems to have an ever upward spiralling need for help for its most vulnerable residents. The need is often greater than the ability to supply even the most basic necessities.

And it is getting worse.

During the holiday season there are so many charities seeking donations that many are not getting what they need to run their programs. Most people could probably name at least five charities or volunteer organizations that are looking for food donations, clothing, money or toys.

Every community has a food bank, which in itself is a travesty. This holiday season it would be amazing to see every food bank have enough to feed those who need extra help.

It’s not just during Christmas though, it’s a year-long need and the shelves are often pretty bare. These charitable organizations all function on a shoestring budget. They rely on volunteers, and in small places such as Sooke people give back to the community every single day.

All people need access to the basics, like food and shelter.

No one should be sleeping under a bridge or in the woods, or couch surfing, for that matter. And they shouldn’t have to feel like beggars if they’re forced to stand in a soup line.

If the various levels of government can pay staff and management huge salaries, there should be some way to raise basic income assistance to the needy. By needy I mean children, single parents, seniors and the disabled.

The gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening. Feelings of goodwill and generosity shouldn’t be limited to just those times when we feel a tinge of guilt for being so good to ourselves and our families.

While we are at it, remember to shop locally if possible. This supports those who live, work and pay taxes in our communities and the money they make stays there.

People in small towns know who their poor are. They interact with them on a daily basis. They see the disadvantaged collecting bottles and cans, which is actually a valuable public service.

They are working in their own way and have pride because they aren’t panhandling.

People in places with a sense of community look out for their neighbours and check on them if they haven’t been seen or heard from in a while.

These same people are often the ones who donate anonymously and generously.

They don’t look for the photo op with the giant cheque and they shy away from recognition. There are no administrative “costs” and all the money they give stays in their own community to aid those who live there.

These people are giving from the heart and often it is those who can least afford it who give the most. Because they know, without good fortune, that the person they are helping could be themselves.

There is no shame in being poor, but there can be shame in being rich.

“Let him who neglects to raise the fallen, fear lest, when he falls, no one will stretch out his hand to lift him up.”  – Saadi

Pirjo Raits is editor of the Sooke News Mirror.

editor@sookenewsmirror.com