Doing My Part

22 Nov

ronald reagan, quote, we can't help everyone but everyone can help someone, volunteer, philanthropy, helping otherI think I’ve talked about this on my blog before, but because I’m such a fan of my own work I can’t remember.

I want to change the world.

When I was a kid I’d see those Sally Struthers commercials for the Christian Children Fund, and would cry. The idea that there were so many people suffering killed me, and even at a young age, I understood the magnitude of global hunger.

Children were starving to death, and there was nothing I could do about it.

My high school required all of its students to volunteer as part of their yearly academic requirements. They were trying to raise the future leaders of America, and believed that service to others makes you a better human being.

When I was a sophomore I volunteered at an armory which had been turned into a homeless shelter/soup kitchen. It was clear that the man who ran the program loved what he did, and that his enthusiasm was a bright spot in the day of the people he served.

An older man who had showed up to volunteer asked the manager how he did it.

“How do I do what?”

“This place is a reminder of poverty in our country. You’ve got to know that you’re only one person trying to solve a huge problem.”

“I’m just doing my part. I can’t do it all, but I can do my part.”

That made a huge impact on me. I can’t do it all, but I can do my part.

My parents are incredibly generous people. They’ve worked very hard for the life they have, but haven’t let it distort their view of the world. They understand that there are people out there struggling.

They always reinforced the idea that because we can help, we should help. Whether it’s money or time, it’s important for us to do something, anything. I’ve taken that with me into adulthood.

Fast forward many years, and the magnitude of the world’s problems is still pretty overwhelming. Poverty, sex trafficking, mental illness, addiction, natural disasters, AIDS, homelessness, domestic violence, animal abuse. Where does someone even start?

I have to start with my small portion of the world, and hope the ripple effect is taking place. I need to do something, anything.

I can’t fix homelessness, but I can buy gloves and socks at the dollar store, and pass them out to people I see on the street. I can’t fix domestic violence, but I can paint a women’s shelter so that battered women have a safe, inviting place to go. I can’t fix poverty, but I can donate canned goods to the local food pantry.

I am reminded of this because Friday is normally the day when I go around doing random things for strangers. Maybe it’s buying a drink for the person behind me in line at the coffee shop, or leaving a note of encouragement in self-help books at the library.

I don’t believe someone needs to be destitute before they need a little help.We all need it from time to time.

With the holidays looming, I know we’re all reminded of those less fortunate. Those who can’t eat, those who can’t afford presents for their children, those who can’t fly home and see their families.

Please don’t be overwhelmed. Buy one bag of rice, and donate it. Sit with an elderly person who hasn’t seen his/her family in years. Skip your routine coffee run, and put that money towards disaster victims. Leave a “you’re not alone” note it in a book meant for people coping with loneliness.

We can’t do it all, but we can do our part.

87 Responses to “Doing My Part”

  1. writerwendyreid 11/26/2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Great post Jen. I regularly buy coffee for people behind me in the drive through. It’s for selfish reasons though. It makes me feel so damn good. 🙂

  2. Ann Koplow 11/24/2013 at 4:39 am #

    Great post. I’m glad I found you here!

  3. Catherine 11/23/2013 at 5:07 pm #

    Really great post! You are right – we can all do our part… and if everyone did their part, then the world would be a better place! It is inspiring to hear about the good you do for others. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 11/24/2013 at 1:15 pm #

      Absolutely! I’m hoping that people see we can change the world…one small act at a time.

  4. undeniablyandi 11/23/2013 at 3:29 pm #

    Reblogged this on Undeniably Andi.

  5. Turning Pages: Of Books and Life 11/23/2013 at 3:12 pm #

    I love your idea of a Give Back (or Pay it Forward) day! Great post! Doing your bit just brightened my day 🙂

  6. mollytopia 11/23/2013 at 2:47 pm #

    What a perfect post. Thanks for the perspective and great ideas! You’re dreamy.

  7. rachelocal 11/23/2013 at 7:50 am #

    I was just talking about this very subject with my husband the other day. I remember as a child being so overwhelmed with the problems in the world – those St. Jude infomercials with the young cancer patients would send me into a sobbing fit. All I wanted to do was help, but I felt powerless.

    Now, I still feel powerless at times, but I’m learning that I am only one person and I can help in my small way.(I can’t tell you how many nonprofits I’ve started in my head.) I currently sponsor two children – one in Africa and one in Haiti. But I love your Friday acts of kindness. Sending money is obviously helpful, but a small act of kindness for someone who lives near me or is a part of my community is tangible.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, Jen!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/24/2013 at 1:14 pm #

      Those St. Jude commercials…how could I have forgotten about those. Like a punch in the gut.

      That’s great that you sponsor a child! I’m sure it makes a difference. I understand about wanting to do something a little closer to home. There are so many ways to get involved.

  8. The Bumble Files 11/22/2013 at 11:29 pm #

    I would love to find a note in the book. Have you done that?! I love that. Great post, Jen. If everyone did their part, however small, the world would be a happier and less lonely place.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/24/2013 at 1:13 pm #

      I’ve left so many notes in books I’ve lost count. Thinking about people finding them makes me smile. Thinking about them turning around and doing it as well makes my heart swell.

      The world WOULD be a less lonely place, you’re right.

  9. daniheart21 11/22/2013 at 8:29 pm #

    Jen, I really like this post. I too, try to do my part. Even little things can make a difference. Thank you for the reminder. xo

    • Jen and Tonic 11/24/2013 at 1:12 pm #

      You are such a generous and kind person, I have no doubt you make an impact all the time.

  10. iRuniBreathe 11/22/2013 at 8:05 pm #

    Thanks for doing your part, and leading the way! I especially like this line: I don’t believe someone needs to be destitute before they need a little help.
    This is so true, and we never know when our seemingly insignificant act can really brighten someone’s day.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/24/2013 at 1:11 pm #

      You never know. Even a brief conversation can linger with a person for days.

  11. javaj240 11/22/2013 at 7:50 pm #

    We can all do something! Thanks for the reminder!

  12. jeanjames 11/22/2013 at 6:32 pm #

    I loved everything about this! One person, one good deed, one at a time…brilliant!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/24/2013 at 1:11 pm #

      If I ever start an organization, I’m using this: “One person, one good deed, one at a time.”

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