Our Giving Nature

Among other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.
— Maya Angelou

There are times (more recently lately) where I feel like packing it all up, moving to the countryside, amassing a barn full of animals and becoming totally self-reliant. That way I can distance myself from a society that appears to be increasingly unaware - or worse yet, aware but uncaring - for the well being of others around them.

I try my best to surround myself with positivity, but it only takes turning on the news, walking through a mall, or reading hateful comments in social media to bring me spiraling down into despair. It’s usually about then that something happens that touches my heart and restores my faith in humanity.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Lawrence, MA recently doing some filming for a documentary project. I’ve gotten to know some truly inspiring people doing amazing work to better the lives of those within their community. I’m learning it is those who have the least, who are often the ones with the most compassion and willingness to give.

As I was waiting in one of the large mill buildings for my interview subject to arrive, an older woman appeared carrying two large paper bags. She asked if I knew where the donation drop-off point was for the Christmas Eve fire victims that she read about in the morning paper. I steered her towards someone who could assist her. As I continued waiting, a large pickup truck backed into the loading dock filled with bags upon bags of donations. Volunteers were busy unloading the goods when my contact appeared and we headed off for some shooting.

When we returned to the Mill a couple hours later, we ran into a timid looking middle-aged couple with bags in hand inquiring about the donation spot. I spied stuffed animals and warm coats in their bags and I envisioned them bustling around all morning collecting items they felt would be helpful and meaningful. I pointed them towards the donation drop-off area but they returned towards us with bags still in hand and explained that a posted sign stated that due to the overwhelming response, donations were no longer being accepted. The couple looked truly disappointed until my compansion suggested other nearby organizations that would surely welcome their offerings. They purposefully headed off.

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As I was walking towards my car, an old, beat up SUV pulled up next to me. My immediate impression was that the mother and daughter were no strangers to a hard life but they appeared eager and excited as they asked me if I knew where the donation area was. Their truck was loaded to the brim with children’s toys and other items. I explained compassionately about the situation. The look of sadness and disappointment on their faces is not something I will soon forget. The mother then perked up and said that they had a Pack and Play that was specifically mentioned as needed and I directed them on their way.

Perhaps I won’t be packing up and moving off to the wilderness just yet.  I might need some fine folks nearby to assist me at a time of need in the future. And I’ll be reminded that they may be as happy to give, as I would be grateful to receive. And next time I find myself wallowing in despair, I will look about and see what help or service I can be to others.

Wishing peace, happiness and health to all for 2017.  Let’s take care of each other.