October 15, 2008 at 10:22 am 7 comments

(from "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein)

(from “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein)

The organizers of Blog Action Day couldn’t have picked a more timely subject for this year’s event. This year’s subject, poverty, is affecting more and more people every day in America and beyond. Many of us feel the strain of the bad economy but don’t experience poverty ourselves. We want to help others at times like these but are justifiably worried about our own finances and feel we have nothing to give.

I believe there is something that we can do to help others during these difficult times and at the same time relieve some of the anxiety we are feeling about our own finances. We can give.

It sounds counter-intuitive, maybe even financially irresponsible. But there are ways that every one of us can give today in a responsible way. Simply thinking “I wish I could help others, but I can’t afford to right now” has a psychological effect: it puts us in a negative and powerless state of mind. Money may be tight, but we can still be thankful for what we have and think about those who are much worse off than we are. Giving to those in need will reinforce our gratitude for the resources we do have and give us the power to do something good with them.

Organizations like Kiva put the power in your hands to invest in an entrepreneur of your choosing– someone in the developing world who is trying to lift him or herself out of poverty and needs capital to get started. Those who receive Kiva loans repay them at a very high rate, so when your loan has been repaid you can take those same funds and re-invest in another person. You don’t need a lot of money to invest– the money in your change jar is enough to make a difference.

Heifer International works to end poverty and hunger around the world by allowing donors to purchase livestock for families in need (pigs, and goats, and bees, oh my!) The animals are provided to families along with the training they need to become self-reliant. I love these two organizations because they empower both the giver and the receiver. By giving, we become part of one family’s path to health and happiness. By acting with gratitude and generosity, we are happier too.

Even if you can’t give your money, you can give your time. Look into local organizations providing assistance to the poor. If you’re not sure who to contact, try VolunteerMatch.Org. If you can’t commit to a regular schedule, get involved in a one-time event like a walkathon. You can even give while doing the things you love to do– be creative. If you love to sew or knit, make a blanket and donate it. If you draw or paint, donate your work to an auction for charity. Giving blood and becoming an organ donor won’t cost you a cent. Also consider joining the National Marrow Donor Registry. If you are a match for someone in need of a bone marrow transplant, you can actually save a life.

Now more than ever, we need to take a step back from the stress of things that we can’t control, like the uncertainty of the upcoming election and the ups and downs of the stock market. We need to remind ourselves that there are plenty of things we can do to make a positive impact, in our own lives and the lives of others.


In the spirit of giving, today I want to empower another person to give. I’m giving away a $25 gift certificate to Kiva, which will allow the winner to invest in a project of his or her choosing. To enter, just leave a comment on this post between now and 12:00pm EST on October 22nd. I’ll contact the winner by e-mail on October 23rd and send the gift certificate via e-mail.


Edited to add: …. The Random Number Generator picked….. Susan! Your Kiva gift certificate is on its way!

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mom  |  October 15, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Well-said, Meredith. We need to be reminded that we do have something to give, comparatively speaking, even though it may not feel that way at times.

  • 2. Jean Robbins  |  October 15, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    You’re your mother’s daughter, Merdith, always thinking of others.


  • 3. Jhoanna  |  October 15, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Excellent post Meredith – thank you for commenting on my blog so that I could discover yours :-) Thank you also for spreading the work on Kiva and for posting about the other organisations – I have never heard of Heifer International but I am off to find out more!

  • 4. Susan Benoit  |  October 21, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Hi Meredith,
    I went to the Kiva website after reading about it on your blog.
    I think that is a great way to empower these people from other parts of the world,people much less fortunate then we are. what a wonderful way to feel, when you are helping someone in need!

  • 5. Katherine  |  October 21, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks for posting this and drawing attention to Kiva, it’s a great cause!

  • 6. Lisa  |  October 22, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Ooh, I think I got in just in time. I’d love to be entered, thanks.

  • 7. Janey  |  October 18, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Boo Hoo – is only for the USA.


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October 2008

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