Charity – Incognito

“Well, the first surprise of the season has shown up in a Salvation Army bell ringer’s bucket,” said the local TV anchorwoman’s cheerful voice. “A mystery philanthropist has deposited a gold coin from the 1800s into a donation site outside a local mall. The treasure, a Spanish gold coin worth over $500, showed up the day after Thanksgiving. There is no word on who the anonymous donor is,” she finished, smiling.

Doesn’t this kind of story bring a smile to your face? We’re inundated with bad news, but the idea of making a high dollar donation and seeking no recognition is something that can melt even the coldest heart.

After a little more research, I learned that every year, tens of thousands of dollars worth of non-monetary gifts mysteriously turn up in the bell ringers’ buckets: diamond earrings, rare collectibles and even an occasional Rolex watch.

While collecting financial donations for the less fortunate, unsuspecting volunteers are pleasantly surprised when they discover a priceless item tossed in amongst the spare change.

These sorts of contributions speak to the humanity of donors on several different levels. First, the simple act of charity. Second, giving without expecting or wanting recognition. Third, a departure from materialism. While any type of charity is to be embraced, the second and third ideas are some powerful notions I’d like to explore further.

When we give, it should be out of a sense that it is the right thing to do; not because we want our name on a building or an award named in our honor. If you recall the Monopoly game that McDonald’s sponsors annually, you may remember that the million dollar prize was awarded to the winner who discovered the Park Place card tucked into their food purchase. When the winning piece was finally unearthed, it was sent to a non-for-profit children’s hospital in a plain, white envelope with no note, no name and no return address. This, faithful reader, is giving at its best!

Finally, its wonderful to hear that individuals have donated priceless collectibles. Speaking as someone who loves to collect, its hard to part with the tangible treasures I’ve obtained over the years. However,

When a one-of-a-kind item is given to help those in need, it reminds us that life is short and we are simply borrowing everything we acquire.

At this time of year, please think of these stories when you give. Now, I’m not suggesting you take your great-great grandmother’s silver tea kettle to the nearest discount store and stuff it into a bell ringer’s bucket.

However, Make a game of giving! Think of ways you can turn charity into an exciting way to assist! Can you slip a gift certificate under the door of someone who could really use some assistance? Or have a delivery of food items made to a pantry, completely leaving your name out of it? Or, maybe something that doesn’t cost money at all! How about a visit to a retirement center just to sit and talk with residents for a while?

Whatever you do, know that it is the right thing. We are so fortunate to have so much and its only right for us to share with others. If that assistance can be provided anonymously and in such a way that helps simplify our lives, then you have created a win-win-win situation! The most charitable giving comes when we expect nothing in return, save for the feeling received knowing we’ve helped someone who needs it!