Giving Back – Why Does it Matter?

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“It is in spending oneself that one becomes rich.”
~ Sarah Bernhardt

Many Americans are more likely to help those in need during the winter holidays than any other time of year. This is, after all, the season of giving. The challenge is, there’s desperate need all year long, in every part of the country, and all across the globe. While giving back periodically is valuable, more people are realizing that committing to some type of philanthropy on a regular basis is important for a healthy family culture.

Granted, these are trying economic times for many. Some of us may refrain from giving because we think our small donation will scarcely matter. On the contrary, it’s far better to have a large number of people giving a little, than a select few giving a lot, because all acts of giving make us better people─raising our awareness, our community spirit, and our compassion in regard to others.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson once said: “Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.” Clearly, aiding someone in need benefits the giver as well as the recipient. It reminds us that ultimately, we’re all one human family on this earth, and serves to unite, rather than divide us. Giving causes hearts to expand, spirits to enlarge, and improves the overall quality of the human condition.

There are countless causes that could benefit from your time, skills and/or money. You might donate food and clothing to a local shelter, volunteer for an organization you believe in, or send a small, recurring donation. Whether you want to help animals, the environment, hungry kids, or fight cancer, there’s a cause for you. What a great legacy to create!

Speaking of important causes, December is National AIDS Awareness Month. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over a million Americans are infected with HIV, but less than 30% get the care needed to manage the virus. While the number of people with HIV who acquire AIDS has decreased due to advances in medical care and antiretroviral therapy, more than 16,000 people with AIDS still die each year.

This is a cause embraced by many, and may strike a chord with you. If so, check out this great site listing 25+ organizations dedicated to helping fight AIDS.

Finding some small way to give back consistently might be the best New Year’s resolution of all. Join hands with others, and you’ll be amazed at the results. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Happy 2012!

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