I could be trite, and advise any number of things, such as “don’t eat yellow snow” or “always drink upstream from the herd.” but I’m going to take this seriously, and give some advice that I try to live by in my life (I fall short every day, but that is what a new day is for.)
As I have mentioned before, Chris and I have a foster daughter. She is a grown woman of 25 now, and we are still very close to her. While she was living with us, she went to spend a weekend with some friends, and when she came back she went right to the fridge, and said something about being starving. When I questioned her, she stated that she did not have anything to eat all weekend, as the friends did not have any money. I was upset with her for not calling and telling me about this, as I told her “part of the reason that you live with us is so that you never have to go hungry. Why didn’t you call us?”
So the story came out. The friends that she was staying with were twin sisters, one had a baby, and she had lost the baby’s birth certificate, so she could not get WIC until she got the replacement. The girls had just moved into this apartment, and although they were working, they did not have spare cash. They spent all they had on food and diapers for the baby until their next paycheck, so they had no cash for food for the adults.
I packed Gwen in the car, and we headed to the grocery store nearest to the home of her friends. I went up and down the aisles, shopping as I do for myself, building meals around things that were on sale, buying some staples such as peanut butter and eggs etc that could be used to make several meals. When we got to the register, it was over $100. As we were loading the food into the car, Gwen said to me “I hope I can be this generous some day.”
This is the advice that I gave to her: Do not hope to be generous “some day” in the future, practice generosity now, with whatever you have. If you have a few dollars, give one to someone who needs it more than you. If you have some time or a skill that will benefit someone, use that time or skill to help them. This will build in you a giving spirit, so that at times when you have more, you will already have that capacity of generosity. I have not always had over $100 to spend on groceries for someone, but even when I did not have much of anything at all, I always knew that I had more than someone else. So if I saw a need that I could meet in some way, I did that.
I truly believe that if we all do what we can do, give what we can give, wherever we are, the world will be an immeasurably better place. “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa