Vacation Philanthropy

It is always a heart-rending sight when you see a mother with young children begging on the streets, or a father with a sign pleading for help while his family sits not too far away anxiously looking on.  It must not be easy for either one of them to endure the harsh looks of ridicule or pity from passersby.  Given the circumstances, my guess would be, they would much prefer a different option to their current destitution.

When Jesus walked this earth, He said to His disciples, “The poor will always be with us.”  It was a clear indicator that poverty will never be eradicated.  However, the expectation to alleviate the suffering of our neighbor is necessary.  After all, we are our brother’s keeper and should show care and concern for their plight.  Today I want you to think of ways to help the less fortunate even while on vacation.  A customized itinerary can include a planned, purposeful giving, and random acts of kindness to the needy you may meet.

Philanthropy is not just for the rich and famous who may have the means to give.  Generous giving by the wealthy is the expected norm, but little acts of kindness that goes unnoticed by others does the same work to ease another’s pain and suffering.  Every vacationer who travels, be it to distant lands or locally, may encounter at some point on their journey a homeless person, a vagrant, a person who may be on the receiving end of a streak of misfortune.  No matter the circumstances, the holiday-maker can proactively plan to help the stranger they meet.  A kind gesture will mean the world of difference not only to the receiver but to the giver also.

Giving is a blessing and is therapeutic.  It helps the intended recipient, but it also helps the donor’s emotional well-being.  It is a win-win activity.  Both parties receive a blessing that words cannot describe, and money cannot buy.  Planned assistance should not be limited to a monetary donation, which is often the easiest solution in answer to a person’s request, but help could come in other forms like meals, clothing, and other intangibles like educational services and seminars

So, how could you go about intentionally giving to the less fortunate while on a trip?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Include in your budget an exact amount to give to panhandlers
  • Buy a meal and deliver it to the homeless street person
  • Donate your lightly-used clothing that you laundered
  • Lighten your bags by giving up your water bottle, portable hammock, tent and cooking utensil with a person on skid-row
  • Leave your extra sneakers and coat with the vagrant in the cold
  • Invite a homeless person to a restaurant for a meal
  • Volunteer an hour or more of your time at a homeless shelter, food pantry, or soup kitchen
  • Carry or purchase a small toy for a child
  • Give a young mother a carton of milk or bag of diapers for her baby
  • Take the time to chat and find out who they are.  That’s worth more than gold in most cases.

It is often heartbreaking when we witness situations where we feel helpless to alleviate the pain and suffering of others.  However, do not let the situation overwhelm you, or cause you to say there is nothing I can do.  Every little bit helps just like in the story of the boy and the starfish on the beach, who tried to throw back in all the washed-up starfish.  When told it was an impossible task to save all of them, he responded at least he saved the one he was throwing back in.  Like that lad you can help that one you are intentionally assisting at that moment.

Community Peeps, vacation philanthropy should be a planned part of your bespoke itinerary.  Help to change the life of the needy in some small way.  Have you ever done this before?  If you have, tell me what you did.  I would like to add to the list above.

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“You can’t beat God’s giving, no matter how you try.” – Song written by Doris Akers

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