BY HEINO MOLLS
With the Christmas season upon us, we have plans to buy presents for those we love and give gifts of appreciation to business people we have dealt with during the past year.
This is also the time of year that many of us turn our thoughts to people who have not been as fortunate. But we should remember that charity is not a once per year, $10 gratuity.
If we truly care about others, we should give what we can throughout the year. We should give, not just token small dollars, but maybe an amount that we really feel. That way it has a real worth.
We should also give of ourselves throughout the year. I cannot think of anything more valuable to give to others. There isn't a person among us who cannot spare a couple of hours during a day or evening to canvass a neighbourhood for donations, sort cans at the food bank, deliver meals to the hungry, or provide a variety of services to assist people in need. There is no excuse for those who do not bother.
With the spirit of giving to others in mind, I would like to share a story with you that intrigued me many years ago.
It is about a very well known businessman in Canada, (I will not tell you his name but I am sure you would recognize it), who was undeniably a very flamboyant man. He must have loved to see his name in print because it was frequently in the press and he seemed to always be available for an interview. He was flashy with his money and very boastful of his wealth.
To be honest, I found him to be quite irritating. Then one day, I read an obscure interview of his that changed my mind. He was asked, that of all the wonderful things he did (travel, living in luxury), what did he enjoy the most about his riches?
He said the only thing he enjoyed about his money was giving it away. He also said the most enjoyable way of giving it away was to do it so that no one knew, except for him, what he had done.
He said he would do it in many ways. Sometimes he would hear about a cause that particularly touched him and he would arrange a donation anonymously. It took some planning to drop a lot of money on a charity without anyone knowing a trace of its origin, but for him, that was part of the enjoyment. Sometimes, he said, he would come upon a person on the street and give them $1,000 and walk on before the person could say a word. He might hear about the misfortune of someone and go visit him or her. When they answered their door, he would give them maybe $20,000 in cash, then turn and quickly walk away.
How he did things was not important. What was important, he said, was that no one knew and no one will ever know what he did.
He made it sound like so much fun, I wanted to do it too. And I think that was the point for this boastful braggart. I think he may have inspired a lot of people. And I think that was another way that he was able to give to others.
Last year, my niece volunteered some of her time with the Salvation Army. She was minding one of their Christmas kettles on a street corner. It was a long, chilly afternoon, but she said the best part about it was this fellow who breezed by, and dropped $100 into the kettle without breaking stride or saying a word of hello.
I thought about that interview I read, when she told me about this fellow, and I wondered if there are more than two people like that out there. What if there are hundreds? How will we ever know if they don't tell anyone?
Merry Christmas to you all and may God bless you always.
Heino Molls is publisher of REM.