Today at work, we participated in our annual "Employees Favorite Charity" drive. Every year, several non-profit organizations from the area will "market" our corporation and our employees will determine which organizations they would like to financially support. Our corporation encourages everyone to donate at least 0.006% of their income to the charity drive, which translates to approximately 1 hour of pay per month. Considering last year employees from our campus donated more than $2 million dollars to local non-profits, I believe that this is a great way for us to learn about charities in the region while fostering a philanthropic spirit in the workforce.
So there I am ... sitting at my desk ... reading through the various charities in the area and I'm in TEARS because there is so much need and so many things I'd love to support but I'm limited by the number of charity rows on my donation form (6) and the number of 0's in my paycheck.
There's the Alzheimer's Family Day Center which provides support for people (and their caregivers) with Alzheimer's. I donated money to this group in honor of my Aunt Alice and my good friend, Jennifer, whose mom is battling Alzheimer's. There is the Lamb Center which provides services for the poor and homeless in Fairfax. I donated money to this group, too. I also donated to Miriam's Kitchen and St. Ann's Infant and Maternity Home and The Cinderella Foundation and My Sister's Place in honor of our trail-guide from North Carolina. How I hope that my pittance donations will add up with other donations to a significant enough amount that they will truly make an impact. But also, I hope that my donations will indicate to these organizations that someone BELIEVES in their cause enough to support it. Isn't that half the battle?
I really wish that I could have supported all of the charities. Then I remembered that charity doesn't just come in the form of financial donations.
Incidentally, all day today, my friend Michele has been on my mind. She wrote me a note asking what the heck had happened to my blog and telling me about the Octomom (Nadya Suleman) who was moving in directly next door to her brother-in-law. I'm not sure what came over me, but this morning when I should have been getting ready for work (and children ready for school), I instead googled Nadya's name to find out more about this woman. And - well. My heart broke, especially when I read all of the public comments on the posts about her.
Why must people be so cruel?
Oh, I know we can judge that she brought it all on herself, what with giving birth to 14 children. And maybe she wanted a reality show. And she didn't get one. And now she's saddled with raising 14 children - ON HER OWN. So she files bankruptcy and stars in an X-rated film and goes out on dates for money. And although it would be SO EASY to throw stones and say what a dope she was for not thinking this stuff through, instead, I feel terribly sad for her and for her children. She's expressed that she has a mental illness surrounding hoarding and I do not believe (and no one can convince me) that this is what Nadya imagined or wanted for her life. To be alone raising FOURTEEN CHILDREN, wondering how she'll survive and now staring in porn to make ends meet. Really? Who wishes for that kind of thing?
Honest to God ... the woman is raising FOURTEEN CHILDREN as a single parent. Of those 14, eight (8!!!) are three-years-old. Does anyone remember when *I* was raising three-year-olds? I locked myself in a closet and fantasized about life on the other side (and I don't mean other side of the door). All the while, I had a stable, devoted, loving husband in my life that would bake me chocolate cakes and paint my toenails. If I could link to my prior blogs I'd reference posts on that exact subject and I'd undoubtedly laugh and think, "Good Lord, how did I ever survive that time?"
Did I ... or am I just dreaming?
All this to say: Charity isn't just money.
Charity is virtue, kindness and love.
Charity is loving our neighbors - fellow mankind - as we love ourselves.
I'm not suggesting that everyone funnel money to Nadya. But I am suggesting some charity in the form of compassion. This is what Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Paul was a seriously wise dude.
Now, that verse was pulled from Wikipedia and DIRECTLY next to that verse were these pictures...
I don't know about you, but I if you added another NINE CHILDREN to these women's lap (and feet)...
I think she'd have a remarkable resemblance to Nadya Suleman.
So ... Michele, when you go see your brother-in-law and you meet Nadya, please tell her that a mother with 10 less children is thinking of her and sending my very best wishes for her success. Please let her know that I'm 100% certain she could do so much more with her life. In fact, I'm so convinced, I'll even help her put together a resume. (I've still got a few good connections in California.)