By contributor Danee Riggs

So, you’ve given to Hurricane Katrina victims and/or donated finances and supplies to our Haitian and Japanese brothers and sisters. This may not have been easy for you as many folks are going through because of the economic depression. Still you gave and that is to be commended.
The need for help, assistance and support is NOT only synonymous with natural disasters and catastrophic events. The need exists every single day- for every day families.
When I first volunteered with Philabundance, we were shown a video that made real the dilemma that many working families face; buy food and clothing or pay the light, water, and heating bills? We’ve all heard stories of our parents or someone we know whose parents went to bed hungry at night so that their children would not. Again, we are not simply speaking about our homeless brothers and sisters (who also need our help!) but families whose parents work day in and day out yet still cannot meet basic needs- without assistance.
That’s where we come in. Organizations like Philabundace do great work in the greater Philadelphia area. But maybe you are not local or you don’t have time to volunteer.  You don’t have to look that hard in your surrounding areas to discover need. Maybe it’s the single mother down the street with three children and working two jobs. It could be the father supporting his children the best that he can but could use a hand.
“Well”, you say “closed mouths don’t get fed” because they didn’t outright ask for your support. Just think about it in terms of yourself; if you’ve worked all of your adult life (and maybe part of your childhood, like I did) and never asked anyone for a ‘handout’, would your pride be so easy to part with simply because the need has arisen?  If we are being honest with ourselves, we know that it wouldn’t be easy at all.
So, start the conversation; Hey girl, I’ve got some nice dresses that I can’t even get into anymore but they would look great on you!” Or “Hey John, my son is a couple years older than your son, right? Well we were going through his closet and found all of these cool spider man (feel free to insert cooler, more relevant superheroes here 🙂 outfits that he can’t even fit any more. You think Justin would be interested?” Or how about – and this one worked for me, “Hey neighbor, Ryan Nicole begged for these cans of ravioli while we were shopping simply because they had SpongeBob on the can. Girl, I let her try them and she won’t touch another one! Do your kids eat ravioli?” Mission accomplished. Someone that I knew could use a little help got it and I don’t feel guilty about wasting food (one of the banes of my existence!)
There are many ways to help people in your own backyard without stripping away pride, making you feel good at the same time.  And that’s ok, you should feel good. Keep giving to and volunteering for the cancer funds, the March of Dimes, St. Judes, Philabundance, the local women’s shelters and salvation army drop offs. But also be on the lookout for needs closer to home. Trust me, in this time of economic stress you won’t have to look very far. Maybe we can make helping and supporting each other second nature and not merely a result of Mother Nature.

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  • Jenily Silva
    April 18, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Great post! and as you said helping others start with those around us that are in need and it's the greater expression of love

  • Danee
    April 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Thank you, Jenily. Here, here! Giving certainly is an expression of love and it also serves to lift ourselves. We should realize that when we help and lift others in our communities, it revitalizes and makes us all better together!

  • Sonya
    April 18, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Hey Danee,

    I really enjoyed your article because you are so true to your word. You didn't even know me when I met you at our mutual friend Staneica's house, but you were so kind to me. We were having a conversation about me being pregnant with my daughter (Nia), when you instantly offered to give me Ryan's clothes. You even went as far as inviting me to your home and making a wonderful meal for me and my kids as we sorted out the clothes. I am/was so grateful for your kindness to a stranger. I just want you to know that my neighbor loves all of the clothes that you gave to me! She especially loves the dresses. You see the circle of giving is still going strong. I told my neighbor that it is her responsibility to give the clothes to someone who would appreciate it.

    Thanks again for being a great human being.


  • Danee
    April 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Wow Sonya! Thank you so much for sharing this. I also thank you for being such a beautiful, open and receptive person! It was blessing for me. I must admit, Ryan Nicole has a cousin a bit older than her whose 'handovers' (as I like to call them) have a been a staple of each season's wardrobe since she was born! I'm so glad that we can continue the circle of giving. As a matter of fact, she has another cousin who has recently passed down an ENTIRE library of books and DVD movies. So, we'll have to another dinner soon! So grateful for you!


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