Greta Finley: Continue to give throughout new year

01/12/2014 12:00 AM

01/10/2014 5:24 PM

I miss giving. Not that I am able to give a lot; I live on a fixed income (as many people do). But during the past holiday season, I gave. I donated clothes, I dropped money in containers, and – my favorite – I donated food.

Almost every time I went shopping, I dedicated an area in my cart for donations. I picked a theme and an amount I could afford. Themes included dinners, kids and toiletries. I was surprised what I could purchase for $10.

I would ask cashiers to package the items separately as I was donating them. Each cashier would smile. Perhaps the cashier had been donating, too. Perhaps she thought I was a simpleton, as the problem of hunger is simply too big to solve. Whatever the reason, it made me feel warm. Maybe I am a simpleton.

Then, I would donate. Just as I had dedicated a space, the grocery store had dedicated a space for a donation box. As did my doctor’s office, the church and several other local locations.

I heard stories about “random acts of kindness” – servers receiving enormous tips, people pulling up at drive-through windows to find their orders paid for, customers picking up layaways and discovering others had paid them off. Gestures as simple as letting someone ahead in line, helping a neighbor, being the first one to smile. Maybe they will pay it forward.

Whether or not they do isn’t the point. It is that small gestures can make a positive impact on a person’s day or life.

We never know where people are in their lives. Are they rich or poor, are they happy, on their way to donate time at a children’s hospital? Did they lose or gain a job, do they suffer from depression, or are they planning a wedding or getting divorced?

I heard that 30 percent of the year’s charitable donations are made during the holiday season, and that makes me sad. I have decided that instead of accepting that and being sad, I am going to do whatever I am able to do to help others.

I shrank a sweater that I received for Christmas. I really liked it. Why should it be in my closet, shaming me each time I see it, when it could be warming a child?

I am going to keep dedicating a space in my cart. I am going to ask store managers to dedicate a year-round space for a box. What if a group hired a local wood shop or machine shop to build these boxes for our local businesses? I could go on and on.

Simply put, I am going to keep giving.

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