On the west side of tumbleweed peppered, middle-of-nowhere, Texas, I drove past a cyclist pulling a wagon with a sign on it that read in part, cycling for cancer. I wondered who in his life he had lost to the beast or what compelled him to make the commitment to cross the country, let alone this vast state. Heck, crossing the county, for that matter, would be a daunting task for most of our sofa-riding nation.
While the rest of the country is going about their business getting ready for the holiday season, some guy is dragging a wagon full of hope covered with sponsor names through desert southwest. I was impressed with the dedication and conviction.
The spirit of activism, volunteerism and giving has been on my mind a lot lately, having watched and participated in the formation and organization of a group to help out a young family stay afloat both spiritually and financially while the patriarch battled cancer.
It would probably take a soulless person to look a photograph of man barely 40 years old, with a 3- and 6-year-old on his lap, and not get involved when asked. Hundreds of people across the country dove in and helped at whatever level they could give.
Affording to donate or give is usually a concern that folks bring up. Yes, the economy is rough and everyone is watching their bottom line, but there are more ways to give than to just write a check.
What money is unable to fix, a warm hand can comfort. There is a gift of time for those who could use an extra pair of helping hands. There is the gift of blood for those of who need it and to pick up the slack for those who are no longer eligible to give. There is the gift of service such as cooking for someone, cleaning for someone, babysitting for someone who desperately needs the help. There’s always something free if not inexpensive to give.
If you’re really confused where to start giving in your community, start with a friendly smile. There aren’t nearly enough of those to go around. Seriously, look around at the tunnel vision, “Shaun of the Dead” unawareness so many have as they drive across town or motor down your street. For giggles, maybe you should stop one of them and ask where they recommend to get involved with the community.
For the young family I mentioned earlier a time donation was requested for someone to volunteer to occasionally pick up after the dog in the backyard. A job that nobody would particularly enjoy but the wife sure would have appreciated it while she tended to more important matters like spending the few remaining days with her husband and creating experiences for him to enjoy with the kids.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to kick cancer’s ass like we all wished he would.
Many people go about their business every day; some volunteer and some don’t … but most people probably would help if someone simply asked them to help. So in the spirit of the season I’ll ask you to help or at least open your heart and your eyes and find a way to help someone when an opportunity presents itself.
If you don’t know where to start just look around your neighborhood and really pay attention. Someone is in a bind and needs someone, anyone to just be kind to them.
You don’t have to ride a bike through the desert to be a hero; you can be a hero just by doing something instead of nothing, by helping someone instead of no one. It really is that simple.
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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, e-mail her at chris@LifeInBonitaSprings.com.