The best part of philanthropy is how it appeals to our finer feelings. Watching the joy our gifts of means and time brings to others deposits a feeling of euphoria in the heart that feels unlike anything else. The following story told by theologian Gordon Hinckley warms the heart with no more effort than simply reading it.
An older boy and his young companion were walking along a road which led through a field. They saw an old coat and a badly worn pair of men’s shoes by the roadside, and in the distance they saw the owner working in the field. The younger boy suggested that they hide the shoes, conceal themselves, and watch the perplexity on the owner’s face when he returned.
The older boy thought that would not be so good. He said this owner must be a very poor man from the looks of his clothes. So, after talking the matter over, at his suggestion, they
concluded to try another experiment. Instead of hiding the shoes, they would put a silver dollar
in each one and see what the owner did when he discovered the money. So that’s what they did. Pretty soon the man returned from the field, put on his coat, slipped one foot into a shoe, felt something hard, took it out and found a silver dollar. Wonder and surprise shone upon his face.
He looked at the dollar again and again, turned around and could see nobody, then proceeded to put on the other shoe; when to his great surprise he found another dollar.
His feelings overcame him. He knelt down and offered aloud a prayer of thanksgiving, in which he spoke of his wife being sick and helpless and his children without bread. He fervently thanked the Lord for this bounty from unknown hands and evoked the blessings of heaven upon those who had given him this needed help. The boys remained hidden until he had gone. They had been touched by his prayer and felt something warm within their hearts. As they left to walk down the road, one said to the other, “Now really, don’t you have a good feeling?”
It’s not always easy to spontaneously change someone’s life on the spur of the moment like the boys in the story. However, giving of our goods and time can be accomplished with a little forethought and a plan to carry it out.
Recently, former billionaire Chuck Feeney realized his lifelong dream of officially going broke. After decades of philanthropic work, he is now penniless, and couldn’t be happier. He says, “Give it away today, you can see what it’s going to do. Giving while dead, you don’t feel anything”
To truly experience giving at the fullest, don’t stop at merely writing a check; go out and get involved at the hands-on level.
Rick King formerly served as the world president of Rotary International and at one time had the opportunity to travel to Asia to help distribute wheelchairs to those who were unable to walk. One girl in particular profoundly affected him. She had dragged herself for 2 miles to attend the event. After waiting in line and being lifted into a red wheelchair, she lit up with joy. For the first time in her life she could move without dragging her crippled body across the ground. After a few minutes of excitedly wheeling around she stopped, pulled herself out of the chair and began to crawl away. Rick was puzzled by this and found an interpreter to ask the girl why she was leaving without her wheelchair. The interpreters explained that the girl had gotten out of the wheelchair so that the next individual in line could have a turn. When the girl was told that the wheelchair was hers to keep, she broke down sobbing. This tender moment brought tears of joy to Rick as well. He thought of all the checks that he’d written over the years, he thought of all of the hours of service given, all of it was truly worth this one moment.
Why do those who give of their time and means repeat their generosity over and over again? Because they know what so many in our current society have not yet learned: when we give, especially when we extend our gift to more than just money, that amazingly warm feeling of joy we get in our heart is its own reward.