A special plea for #GivingTuesday

As longtime readers know, this is the time of year when we urge everyone — whether you’re gamers, otaku or not — to head on over to the Amazon wishlist of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children and purchase a game, toy, or other item that will be sent directly to the hospital to benefit its young patients and their families. (If you spend $25 or more, you’ll even get free shipping.) The medical center is part of the network served by the Child’s Play charity.

But in addition to that, I’d like to make a different kind of plea this year.

You may know that this blog started off under the auspices of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, now the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Each year during the holidays, the Star-Bulletin ran the Good Neighbor Fund to benefit the Community Clearinghouse and needy Hawaii families, along with printing a list of monetary donations the fund receives — practices that continue today under the Star-Advertiser. The amount of each individual donation varies from $100 or more to, well, far less than that.

Some years ago, a person I once had the acquaintance of was perusing said list and came to the latter part of it.

“Five dollars?!” this person chortled with incredulity. “Gee, now isn’t that SO generous? And it’s being printed in the paper??”

The remark annoyed me. Words — admittedly caustic ones — hovered on my tongue. Unfortunately, I was concentrating far more on something else at the time and so I was unable to form the retort that really should have been said, and the time for saying it passed.

check out hunger2

Have you seen those bright green slips of paper next to the cash register at many grocery stores, part of the annual Check-Out Hunger Campaign to benefit the Hawaii Foodbank? The smallest amount they ask to help is a little under $3 — and from that tiny amount, the food bank promises to feed a child breakfast for a week. What’s considered to be the most important meal of the day, for an entire week! For less than $3! For many of us who are always on the run or in a rush, a cup of coffee alone already costs far more than that per DAY!

Not only that, every dollar raised through the campaign goes directly to the food bank.

When you’re handing over $7 for that chili or Portuguese sausage or cinnamon bread or ice cream, or spending $15 for that deluxe wrapping paper or greeting cards from a catalog, or shelling out $20 for that magazine subscription, think about it: Just how much of that money is actually going to the organization you’re supporting? A dollar? Maybe two or three? Perhaps five, if you’re lucky?

In fact, many donations aren’t a whole lot by themselves. Yogurt lids to help the fight against breast cancer? Worth 10 cents each. Box Tops for Education? Also just 10 cents for each box top or label. Those donation boxes you might see in stores, collecting money for various charitable endeavors? They’re filled with pennies, nickels, dimes.

But when hundreds or thousands of people decide to take the time to do their small part, those resources, so seemingly insignificant, add up to a great deal more.

This is one of the biggest cliches in the book, but I say it nevertheless: Never underestimate what the smallest donation can do — not just in itself, but also added up over time. Don’t ever think that your $1 is too little or too useless to be of any help.

That is why, in these days of special need, with the economy still wobbly and so many more people needing a bit of aid, it’s important to look at what we have and be grateful that we have so much — and then, despite the overall tightening of spending, open those wallets just a tad and give the $1, $2, or whatever little extra we can give. Not only on this Giving Tuesday, but throughout the holiday season and, hopefully, throughout the year.

And I hope that person, especially in these hard times, has come to value just how much good $5 can do.

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