When I was ten I received a surprise birthday present from my aunt and uncle. It was a brand new crisp twenty dollar bill. I had seen one before, but had never actually held one in my hand. And I had certainly never been the proud possessor of such a thing. I was awestruck when I opened their Birthday Card and saw the bill inside.
Of course, this was many years ago. Twenty dollars would buy two hundred comic books, instead of being a minor deposit on a pair of gym shoes or designer jeans. I offer you that information just to put the gift into perspective.
Well we had a festive little Birthday Party, Grandma providing the catering, the finale being my favorite birthday (or any other occasion) cake, a three layer sponge cake with fresh whipped cream and strawberries spread between the layers and topped with more whipped cream and glazed whole strawberries on the top, leaving just enough room for the insertion of the ten birthday candles.
After the company left, my Mom, who had whisked away her sister’s twenty dollar bill for safe keeping asked what I was going to do with all that money. I had seen some ads on television from a group called CARE. They helped out a lot of poor children in Africa and other underdeveloped countries. So I asked Mom and Dad if it would be alright if we could send them ten dollars and if I kept the rest.
My mother hugged me and said that would be a very nice thing to do and she promised to get their address so that they could send in a check for my donation. But as it turned out, after she sent in my ten dollars, she and Dad received a thank you from CARE and some information from them about the work they did, and they became regular monthly donors to CARE for the rest of their lives.
Apparently, even ten year olds can make a little bit of a difference in the world.
Since I made my little donation to CARE, many other organizations have been founded to help feed those who do not have enough food to survive. Although I have forgotten the particular group that placed the ad, I remember one that said a ten dollar donation would enable them to buy enough food from a food bank to feed a family of four for a week.
Imagine that. For the price of a couple of “Happy Meals” we could feed an entire family for seven days. It’s something that we should all think about the next time we pull up to the drive in window.
But as much of a difference as each of us could make to the impoverished who share our planet, this is minor compared to one other benefit we could offer the world.
I’m not sure when we will see the final accounting of the amount of money that will be spent this year on the Presidential campaigns of the two candidates. Not to mention the amount that will be spent on senatorial and congressional races and local offices. But my guess is that $500 Million is probably a low estimate. And that’s just for television advertising let alone all the mailers and flyers which besiege us at every one of these events.
What if, you’ll forgive my clinging to my childhood starry-eyed optimism, what if, instead of contributing to political candidates, those donors turned their attention instead to the charities whose mission is to feed our poor? Can you imagine the impact that $500 Million would have in reducing the suffering, malnourishment and need of people both in America and around the world?
Instead of seeing an endless procession of ads bashing the other candidate and explaining why he or she is a thief, a crook and a liar – all of which I find extremely depressing, we might see an ad of a little girl in Somalia or Appalachia who said, “Thank you for helping my family by giving us our food.” That would be an ad that I would actually enjoy watching and feel good about seeing.
As with all things it comes down to priorities. But if a child of ten could see the misery of other children who were less fortunate, shouldn’t we adults have the ability to share that insight? Shouldn’t we all CARE?