I grew up in a working class household. While I did not experience grand birthday party celebrations as a kid, I never felt like my needs were not provided by my hardworking parents. We did not have the internet at home so I spent much of my free time roaming the streets with my sisters and friends.
We lived near the city centre and we saw how the city changed within the day. With the sunrise, a bright, bustling metropolis awoke. And as dusk came, we saw homeless children and beggars trickle in, scavenging from rubbish bins in dark alleys.
I wanted to do something but I was only 12 and did not have money to share. I thought that I could at least help inspire the street children near my neighbourhood. I asked my church minister if I could hold a Street Sunday School and read Bible stories to the children. That was the start of a realization that giving can be impactful as long as I keep to my four golden rules.
1. Giving Need Not Be Material or Monetary
Many people tend to avoid pleas for help from charitable organizations because they think that they will have to give money. This might be true for some organizations but there are groups that constantly need support from voluntary work or even simply through social media promotion. We can help social welfare groups by sharing our time, talent, or space.
2. Give Within Your Means
I advocate generosity but I also believe that we should also look after ourselves if we want to continue helping other people. Also, we can give pre-loved items instead of giving new things that we cannot afford. Second-hand shoes, clothes, blankets, and the like can still be very useful for those in dire need.
Project Hope students reading Chinese storybook to Elderly Neighbours
Student volunteers learning the importance of pet adoption
3. Give Wholeheartedly
Cynics might say that helping people is ultimately for the satisfaction of the giver. I do not deny that there is happiness in the act of sharing, but this should not be the motivation. When we give without seeking anything in return, we know that the act of kindness is genuine. There is no point in giving if we plan to ask favours in return. If we are suspicious about the cause, it wouldn't hurt to know more about the organization or the person. After all, we want our efforts to be worthy.
4. Give Constantly
People feel good about giving, especially during the holiday season. While that is a good reason to share our blessings, we sometimes forget that people in need are not only in need during the holidays but are in need all year round. So, instead of making a one-time big splash, consider committing to the monthly sponsorship of a cause close to your heart.
Holiday Cards made by THS Faculty, students and Staff
DIY Holiday Cards distributed in London and The Philippines
There are many ways of giving and I am sure that you can come up with more creative ideas. We must remember though that whenever we doubt our capacity to give, reflect on these suggestions because the fact that we get to read this blog should help us realize that there is always something we can share.