I remember distinctly the day my involvement with local charities began. It was the PAWS Fur Ball and the organization was just in its early stages. I took my Chihuahua Daisy to its first party and, the next day, there was a half page photo of us in the Chicago Tribune. It didn't hurt that she was dressed as "Daisy Oakley" with round glasses, a cowboy hat and a fringed skirt. (AND was clearly enjoying every minute of it!) It also gave a tremendous boost of publicity to the organization at the time. Well, as we all know, PAWS is now the number one no-kill animal shelter in the Midwest and NEVER lacks for PR. But, at a time when it needed it, I unknowingly was there to help with little Daisy.
Fast forward to 2013. I'm now lucky to be involved with lots of worthy causes around Chicago and have learned a lot about charitable giving. I hate it when people call me a socialite or philanthropist because I'm far from what I feel these words imply. To me, this says "I've got a lot of money and I'm donating it" which is most certainly not the case for me. It worries me that a lot of people shy away from becoming involved saying, "I don't have enough money to make a difference." One of the most important things I've learned is that giving of your time is as important as giving money.
Now granted, every charity needs funds to operate but grassroots support is what makes the wheel go round. Every organization needs worker bees to make things run smoothly. Even PAWS relies on volunteers who keep their costs down and give those dogs and cats all the love they crave while waiting for their forever homes. There is always work to do, on every level.
For the Bear Tie Ball, coming up on March 8, Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation will rely on its volunteers to man the silent auction tables, check people in and help with the live auction among many other duties. For the Service Club of Chicago's upcoming gala this Friday night, I know I will see cheerful volunteers collecting raffle tickets, manning auction tables and numerous other duties. And what would we do without Red Cross volunteers who have become synonymous with this organization. Salvation Army bell ringers are volunteers as are the firemen we see in the streets collecting for their own charities. These people aren't donating huge sums of money, but are they making a difference with their time? HELL YES!
So, if you have a charity that touches your heart....don't be afraid to step up and offer your services. You don't have to be Bill Gates to change people's lives.
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