Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I am Thankful for Generous Souls

In my life, I am blessed with abundance. It's almost ridiculous, really; practically embarrassing, or at least maybe it should be.

My uncle will stop at a store near my house, see that mac 'n cheese is on sale, and bring over a case because he knows my kids love it. Chris's mom and step-dad recently used up their frequent flyer miles to get tickets for all six of us to fly to Florida to spend Thanksgiving with my brother-in-law. A friend cleaned out her closet and brought me loads of awesome hand-me-downs in my size that she thought I might like (she was right!).  My mom takes all of my kids shopping for shoes at least a couple times a year. I admired my aunt's bicycle, and she told me I could have it. Another aunt got a new sewing machine and passed her old one on to me (in perfect working order!). Yet another aunt used up part of her employee clothing allowance to send boxes of name brand clothes and accessories to my kids and I (brand new! with tags!).

On and on it goes in an almost dizzying whirl. I am incredibly thankful for the generous souls who do, and have done, so much to enhance my life. Giving makes the world a nicer place, both for the recipient and the giver.

Of course, the material aspect of giving is just one facet. I am also eternally grateful to those who have babysat my kids, taken care of our dog when we're on vacation, cooked a meal for my family when I needed help, baked me cookies just because I have an infamous sweet tooth, or been there to listen to me ramble and vent and support me during times of stress.

Beyond me and my own personal little corner of the universe, there are those wonderfully unselfish people who endlessly give of themselves to make the world a nicer place for lots of people (not just me). My grandparents were such people. They each had their passions and they poured themselves selflessly into them. In return they expected nothing. They didn't brag about spending every Wednesday night for 25 years working BINGO for a local Catholic school, or spending hours visiting seniors at a nearby nursing home. They saw a need, something they could provide, and they just did it. 

I have an old friend from high school who brings to mind the altruistic giving I witnessed in my grandparents. His name is Mike DeWaele and he helps run a seriously awesome place in Kalamazoo, Michigan called The Peace House. He lives there with his family and friends, in a not so great neighborhood, trying to make the world a brighter place for the local residents. The group provides a safe place for kids to hang out, hosts neighborhood parties and events, tutors kids after school, shares a community-built play scape and on-site garden, and advocates peaceful living. They depend upon donations to operate, but have no plans to seek non-profit status because they do what they do as neighbors and friends. They saw a need, and decided to dedicate their lives to helping to fill it. I am so thankful there are people like this in the world! I haven't seen Mike in many years, but I greatly admire what he does, and if I'm ever in Kalamazoo I'm definitely going to check out The Peace House for myself.

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