I’m constantly struck by how generous some people are and how others aren’t. I suspect it’s something that’s engrained in you from an early age or perhaps you end up with someone who is generous and it rubs off of you.
I’m surrounded by many generous people. Growing up in a large gamily and even larger extended family, there were always extra people in our home, there was always another seat at the table, the food could always stretch for more people who randomly arrived (and this was often), there was always a random person we had never seen in our lives (or 5) at our house on Christmas Day and Mum opened her home to more than a few people down on their luck or pregnant teens who had been thrown out of home and had no where to go. My in laws are the same, they would drive through the night back from a holiday to babysit at 6am in the morning if we needed them. They will drive all over Sydney to come watch the kids play sport and it’s rare for them to let us put out hands in our pockets to pay for a meal. They’re generous of heart too, I’ve never heard them utter an unkind word about anyone, ever. Yep, hard to believe but true. Generous all over.
My friends are all givers and I’m constantly amazed how kind they are to open their homes and invite my lot for a meal when there are 7 of us! It’s incredibly humbling to know that good friends still enjoy our company when we have 5 kids. I had always thought once I hit 4 kids that the entertaining would all have to be done at our house – but I was wrong. Yesterday at a high school fun fair I was $20 short on cash for ride tickets for the kids, my friend who has even more kids than me gave me $20 and then wouldn’t accept it back once I’d visited the ATM. Sure $20 isn’t that much these days but it’s the kindness that comes with it, the sentiment and not sweating the small stuff that means good karma is coming their way and the Big Guy now has an excuse to take his mate out for beers to say thanks!
The Big Guy is rather generous, he’s taught me a lot about generosity. If any charity calls him with a request for donations that will assist children, fire fighters, the SES or the Flying Doctors service, they get an automatic donation. He’s a sucker for it.
The Big Guy has some weird account online where he donates a fixed amount to farmers in the third world to set up their farms with cows and livestock and once the money is paid back by that same farmer (sometimes not), he then moves on and donates it to the next farmer in need of a loan. It makes him feel good to help others and it’s taught me to be a little less concerned about money and material possessions when so many people need stuff they can’t readily access. I’m possibly not as generous as the Big Guy and it took me a while (especially during the early days when dollars were frighteningly scarce) to understand how he would always give our hard earned money to randoms on the phone but I think in trying to pay it forward life has been good to him in return.The Big Guy has also taught the kids that you NEVER walk past the Salvation Army donation points in shopping centres or pubs without pumping all the coins in your pocket into that little brown box. I like that, it makes me proud, even when it’s my pockets that they’re emptying.
Generosity can be demonstrated in many ways and it’s not always about money, it’s about time, it’s about the way you approach people, how kind you are and how you give your heart to others to make them feel good. You get a lot more from being generous, certainly a hell of a lot more than you get from being selfish. I have a long way to go, I think we all do but with this in mind….I propose we all do one generous thing this week. Why? Just because. Here are some ideas:
- Donate 2 chickens to world vision for $25. Click here for more info.
- Get the kids to choose one toy each to donate to charity and explain why you’re doing it, each of the major charities have a donations collection spot in your local area.
- Enter a charity event. A walk, a run, a 40 hour famine, a reading challenge.
- Take a pack of lollies for each of the kids in your child’s sports team as a treat for after the game this week.
- Invite a child who may not be as popular with other kids for a playdate.
- Send an end of term thank you card to your child’s teacher telling them they are doing a good job in teaching your child. Positive re-enforcement works for everyone.
- Put the dish cloth down, get outside and shoot hoops, kick a ball and spend at least 1/2 hour hanging with your kids without thinking about the other stuff we all stress about.
- Make your partner a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
- Think about coaching or managing your child’s sport team either this season or next, sure it’s a big commitment and you may not know what you’re doing but you’ll find the majority of people who do volunteer don’t have a clue either and the kids will always remember it!
- Invite a friend over to your home for coffee.
- Go to the school P&F or P&C meeting and put your hand up to help out at their fundraising events, you’ll meet some fabulously crazy people doing this and possibly find some lifelong friends.
- Invite a family over to your home for a BBQ to celebrate the upcoming long weekend.
- Organise a group outing with other families at the park, they may be just as bored at home as you are wondering what to do as the weather gets cooler.
- Send a card to someone who you’re thinking about but haven’t made the time to get in touch with. Just tell them you’re thinking about them.
- Buy the person behind you in the line at the coffee shop a coffee. Just because.
- Give a gift to someone, give it because you want to, not because you’re hanging out for the ‘thank you’ and gushing over how wonderful you are.
- Pull a couple of nice items out of your wardrobe that you no longer wear and donate them to a women’s shelter. Women need nice clothing for court, for meetings and they often leave home with just the clothes on their back.
- Smile at every single person you walk past at the shopping centre this week. It’s surprising how many people smile back.
- Volunteer to help out at school, covering books, reading groups, excursions, canteen, clean up days, anything really – it’s only a couple of hours but a lovely thing to do.
- Run a fundraiser for your child’s daycare or pre-school. A chocolate drive, a raffle, personalised tea towels, family photograph sessions – anything really!
- Know someone who is down on their luck at the moment? Having a hard time financially or someone who has lost someone close to them some time ago but may still be mourning? Pop a Coles/Woolworths gift voucher in the mail with a card saying you’re thinking of them.
- Have any Godchildren? Don’t forget them, email them, organise an outing with them. Be present in their lives.
- If you don’t make any regular donations to charity or a church who helps people in need, think about sponsoring a child. It’s a big commitment however it’s worth it when we have so much and others have so little.
- Finished having your babies? Why not donate all your baby clothes and larger items to a family who is in need. Often foster families need baby gear as they like to send babies home or to their next carer with some clothes and allowances don’t cover the cost of new stuff. Contact foster care organisations for more information.
- Help the kids volunteer to do something kind and pay it forward for no other reason than you want to teach them how to be generous. Wash a family member/neighbour or grandparent’s car or get them to mow their lawns. Get them to donate 5% of their pocket money once a month to charity. Even 0.20c a week is about $10 a year and for a child, that’s a lot of money and to a child in the third world, that’s a chicken that can provide eggs and income.
Just my thoughts for the day, have a nice week and let me know if you manage to do just one generous thing this week! Enjoy!