Charity has many forms, all good.

When it comes to charity, a little goes a long way. Because it’s the gesture, as much, maybe even more, than the actual contribution, that makes the difference. Whatever form that takes. Charity can be private and anonymous. It can be a with an organization and scheduled. It can be whatever you want it to be. There’s no set rules here. That’s the beauty.

Case in point

I was walking though old Montreal one sweltering day last July, down a side street, off the tourist track. The woman in front of me was on her lunch hour too, I assumed. She was walking slowly, no bag, no purse, no camera, all alone. A regular. Further up, a man sat on low wall in front of a condo building. He held his baseball cap by the visor, upturned. In Montreal-speak this means “Got any change?” and not “Whew it’s hot, I’m taking a break”. The are two men’s shelters in a half mile radius; this isn’t an uncommon sight.

They both caught my attention because as the woman went by him, she reached out and put something in the cap. But it didn’t jingle like change. Here, even ones and twos are coins. Maybe she had given him just one coin and his cap was empty? But more than that it was how she did it. Nether looked at each other. She kept staring straight ahead, he was looking down. It was like slipping someone a note. It was like an exchange in a spy movie. I had to look; call it an occupational hazard. She’d left him a five dollar bill. He never even glanced up, but discretely retrieved it and put it in his pocket, perhaps worried a breeze might blow it away.

I had a hundred and one questions (still the job habit). How often did she do this? Did she know him, like as a regular in her environment? Figuring once a week for, let’s say, 45 weeks, that’s 225$. It that her form of charitable donations? Maybe it was a one time, spur of the moment, thing. But who goes around with a fiver at the ready, unless you planned ahead?

Don’t make it complicated

I think a lot of us see charity as either a large, one time monetary contribution that gets our name on a hospital wing. Or volunteering at a level that borders on Nobel prize worthy. And like a lot of other things, we don’t start because we predict we won’t excel. We won’t be great. “If I ever won a lot of money I’d give some to…” “When I retire and have more time, I’d like to volunteer for…”

And so, another door stays closed. If it isn’t big, we think it doesn’t count. It does. Five dollars does. Some change does. It adds up. You don’t have to commit to a volunteering schedule. It can be once a month, once a week, or when you can. It can be in whatever form you choose. 

Tailor your giving to you

For example, it can be on your birthday or Christmas list. Don’t know what to ask for anymore? Try a charitable contribution in your name. Read my Instagram post on that here. 

Another way, is putting a hobby or skill you have to use. I like to knit. Nothing complicated; I stick to plains and pearls. I knit baby bonnets. The ones they give newborns in the hospital. It’s on my own time. No schedule, no quota, just the same pattern over and over, so it’s become easy. I also make hat and scarf sets for a women’s shelter. Again a simple Use a skill to create for charitypattern. I give all the credit to the yarn for the impressive end product. I knit when I can, no rush. I’m slow. It’s ok. You do what you can. 

A friend does translation for a local sports organization. At her convenience, as long as she meets the agreed deadline.

Finally, my late aunt, who lived in a rural area, was homebound one winter while undergoing chemo. She bought a load of brightly colored fabrics and sewed children’s underwear. Dozens of pairs, that she gave to a religious congregation near her house, to later be delivered to their missions in other countries. No feeling sorry for herself; rather feeling good in doing good. 

Remember, it’s the gesture above all that counts, because it embodies goodness. And good touches those benefit, who do it and who witness it. That’s why we all like it.

a little charity goes a long way
Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash