MINT HILL, NC – Following the post-Thanksgiving “spend” of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday encourages people to do good by giving.
When we think about charitable work, we tend to think big: donating or raising funds for a cause, regularly volunteering hours, or developing and executing a project related to an issue we care about. But are those the only – or even the best – ways to give?
Donating or volunteering to a nonprofit or charitable cause is certainly valuable, but you don’t have to seek out a national organization. There are many organizations right here in our community that rely on donations and volunteers to keep their doors open.
“Donations are critical for our Community Boutique, as our self-funding feature, which supports Servant’s Heart,” says Servant’s Heart Founder and Executive Director Kim Rhodarmer. “I strive to donate items from my house while they are desirable enough for someone else to love them, rather than adding to our landfills because I waited too late. This benefits our environment, our living spaces, and people struggling in our community.”
Monetary donations are equally important to supporting programs at Servant’s Heart like Turkey Tuesday, the NonFood Pantry, and BillPay Assistance, but you don’t have to make a large donation to have a big impact.
“Many people have the misconception that if they cannot give a ‘significant’ amount of money, then their contribution is not valuable,” says Rhodarmer. “Imagine if 1000 people committed just $10 a month to Servant’s Heart. This would allow us to add $10,000 a month to our BillPay assistance funds. That would made a huge difference to our clients and those giving $10 a month would likely not even miss it.”
Volunteers are also essential to keeping nonprofits running. “Volunteers are the reason we get to open our doors every day!” says Rhodarmer. “Some people volunteer because they want to engage in meaningful activity that holds purpose. Others seek a sense of family and community.” Servant’s Heart is currently seeking 2-4 dependable and attentive teenagers to volunteer on Saturdays, but even committing to one Saturday a month would be welcome.
Donations and volunteering are important, but they aren’t the only way to “give back” this holiday season. “I think the biggest thing that people can do is think about what they do and offer that to others,” says Amy Sue Salvatore, Owner of The Sunflower Club Cafe & Outreach. “My mission is to have a network of people who will help each other. In a perfect community model, we share our gifts with our neighbors and afford them the opportunity to share their gifts. This allows us all to make a living and preserves the integrity of our amazing village.”
Often we limit our idea of “giving back” to helping the poor or the homeless – those with clear and present needs – but Salvatore encourages people to expand their definition of what the concept means “The people that pick up meals every week from Sunflower Club – they’re not necessarily homeless,” she explains. “A family might be having trouble financially. Someone might be sick and not have the energy to cook. Maybe a volunteer who works hard at another organization doesn’t have time to cook.”
Salvatore encourages people to give back simply by supporting their neighbors and the community they live in. “If you see that your neighbor is struggling to keep their lawn mowed, don’t complain about it on NextDoor!” laughs Salvatore. “Go over there and ask if you can help. Offer to help out at your kids’ school. Take your kids on a walk and pick up trash. There are so many small ways to give back.”
For Salvatore, supporting your neighbors means being thoughtful not just with where you donate your money but also where you spend it. “The biggest way to give is stay local as much as you can,” she says. “You’re giving to your neighbors when you use local companies that aren’t big chains.”
Most of all, never underestimate the impact of what you have to give, no matter how small. “Many people underestimate their sphere of influence,” says Rhodarmer. “I remember when I was a stay-at-home mom and operated on a tight budget. One of our neighbors several streets over unexpectedly lost her husband. Lots of relatives were at her house and she needed help with food. I knew I could not provide two weeks of groceries for a dozen people, but I could rally my friends and immediate neighbors to gather breakfast items to more than satisfy the need. Individually, I could not. Collectively, we did.”
“We all need community,” concludes Rhodarmer, “and at some place in our lives, we will all need someone’s help, regardless of our bank account. We need each other. Please consider a way to get plugged in to community, to people, to life – because that’s what makes life worth living.”