My first exposure to charitable giving came in the form of a little pink envelope that I would fill with change (typically scooped out of my Dad's top dresser drawer or emptied from my piggy bank) each Sunday morning. I would wait anxiously for my chance to drop that envelope into the brass offering plate at church and feel so grown-up.
All the church ladies in their flowered dresses and high heels were doing the same thing. It was very lady like to give. And while the grown ups tossed checks and bills into the plate; I only gave spare change. It was what I had to give.
Those days stuck with me. Giving has very little to do with how much money you give--but it has everything to do with the very act of doing it.
I think giving money can sometimes be seen as an activity for the rich--and yes, the rich might technically and logically have more cash to give and may even feel they need to give for business or morals. Giving can be uncomfortable--parting with money we think we need for something (and maybe we do). Giving can seem like welfare--we think the government should be helping the poor. But, giving is essential. Giving is what we do to help each other. Giving unites us with those who are in need. Giving helps us when we are in need. Giving is an activity for everyone.
Alex's Lemonade Stand has taught me that--each year, at least a dozen children come to Lily's stand and fill our donation jar with change--their own money. Another few children show up with money they earned from their own lemonade stands.
It is these small gifts that are gigantic: These children will be life long givers. And I know they are giving, because they saw their parents or other adults giving. I know it. Because, their mother is standing right behind them with another donation.
These children remind me to keep giving what I can and to not let the amount in my bank account stop me. These children remind me that every donation is a big donation. Every donation deserves a thank you. Every donation makes a wave, makes a change in someone's life. Generosity is not a number; it is an act of giving what you have to someone who needs it.
It changes the world, one penny at time.