Its' Better to Give

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By Marianne Lynch, May 2014

In those spare moments when I am not working to end poverty housing, being a mom and wife or dealing with some chore around the house, you can usually find me at the garden center at Lowe’s, Home Depot or anywhere else that the smell of flowers beckons me go.  This weekend was no exception.  I found myself wandering around Lowe’s looking at the varieties of annuals and vegetables.

As I stumbled upon the perennials, I noticed an elderly woman standing near me looking rather distressed. It was a busy weekend so even though they had plenty of sales associates, they were all tied up at the moment.   She clearly needed help moving a bag of dirt into her cart. Seeing her, I offered to get it for her. At first, she said that she thought it might be too heavy for me and that she would try to get some help from the associate.  I told her it was no problem and hoisted the bag into her cart.  As I did so, her face lit up with a huge smile. I think she thanked me at least ten times before leaving.

As I left Lowe’s (flowers in hand, of course!) I couldn’t help but feel good about this extremely small gesture that I made toward this woman. I didn’t know her, but for that brief second, I made her life easier.  That made me feel really good. Something so small – giving of a minute of my time, helped someone else’s load not be so great, even if for just a moment.

And that good feeling carried me for the rest of the day – I let people into my lane of traffic, was a little more patient with my kids, took the time to let someone cross the street in front of my car…you know how it goes.  All from one small incident.

I often find this to be true at Habitat. When I ask supporters why they give, overwhelmingly, they say that they like to know they’ve helped us in some small way.  They may not know the families who benefit, but that doesn’t seem to matter – knowing that their gesture could help change someone’s life is what motivates them to give.  Those who give of their time often say the same thing - it is the good feeling that they get from helping that inspires them. They like the feeling of being needed and that they had a skill or talent to give.

Right now, as our Spring Matching Gift Appeal reaches mailboxes all over the county, I ask you not think of it as one more piece of junk mail, but as an opportunity to help (to hoist that dirt, if you will) families in your neighborhood, your community and your county achieve amazing goals.  I hope you’ll think about a gift to Habitat and the good feeling it brings not only to the families helped by it, but also to you, the giver.