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Archive for the ‘Compassion’ Category

Alternative Gifts

Q: My children and grandchildren keep asking me what I want them to give me for Christmas, but truthfully, at my age, I don’t need anything. How can I tell them this without sounding like I don’t care for them or don’t want them to bother me? — A.B.

A: Suggest to them that in this current economy, they might save money and/or help those who are less fortunate by doing one or more of the following:

  • donate their time to a worthy cause in lieu of a gift

  • donate money to a worthy charity
  • offer their time to help you (e.g., cleaning, organizing, lawn work)
  • schedule a regular time for family game night (for in-town family)
  • pledge to keep in touch more often (for out-of-town family)
  • promise to make you a special meal or baked good in the next year
  • adopt an octopus

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Charity Research

Q: About this time of year, it seems like my mailbox is filled with appeals for money from charities and other organizations. How can I know which ones are legitimate and really need my money? I don’t have a lot to give but I don’t want to see it go to waste. — N. McK.

A: This is a great question to ask. Many charities waste the money you send them or spend it in non-charitable ways. In this previous post, I advised the reader to inquire as to how their charitable donation would be used. This site has some good advice for choosing a worthy charity. It recommends researching particular charities with the Better Business Bureau. A list of secular charities can be found here. I am not recommending any of these; you should research them yourself before making a donation.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Lending a Hand

Q: It seems like every time I try to help someone it turns out badly. Am I a fool for trying to help people when they’re down on their luck and need a helping hand? I’d like to think it’s the right thing to do, but then when they just take advantage of you, it’s hard to keep on doing it. — M.C.

A: If you think that helping others is the right thing for you to do, then it probably is. The people who have needed your help may have had problems such as mental illness or addiction that resulted in their hardship. If this is the case, any aid that you give may help them temporarily, but ultimately they will need assistance with these problems before they can get back on their feet. You may want to modify the way in which you help others by trying to determine if they have any underlying problems that need to be addressed, and then assist them in seeking treatment or therapy. Your aid could let them feel that someone cares for them, and could provide support in their efforts to modify their behavior.

On the other hand, some of these people may be lazy or greedy. In this case, they make take advantage of you and your attempts to help them may be wasted . However, if you have the means to continue helping others, I hope that you do so while trying harder to determine if these people need a different type of assistance (e.g. therapy) or are trying to take advantage of your generosity.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Charity

Q: So far, my husband and I have managed to keep our jobs, but with the economy the way it is we’ve really cut back on our spending for fear we’ll have to live off our savings some day. As part of this, we’ve almost stopped giving to our church and the charities we’ve supported. Are we wrong? — N. McK.

A: The current economic crisis has affected a large fraction of the US and the world, and it is prudent to plan ahead and reduce your spending. Charity is certainly viewed as a virtue by most, but it is important that individuals and families maintain the ability to provide food, shelter, education, and recreation for themselves. If the only way you can support your family is to reduce or eliminate charitable giving, then you should not feel you are doing anything wrong. If you would still like to contribute to your community, you could try donating your time to local organizations that feed and house the disadvantaged, teach people to read, or mentor young people. These activities may also provide you with rewarding, educating experiences and some recreation.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Feeling Useless

Q: For many years, I took care of my disabled sister (she had severe cerebral palsy), and while I also had a job, I did almost everything for her. But a few months ago, she died peacefully in her sleep, and now I feel depressed and absolutely useless. How will God get me out of this? — D.L.

A: I’m sorry for your loss. You should be commended for your devotion to your sister. You were probably a big comfort to her and other members of your family. If you would like to use your free time in a more productive manner, you could use the skills you developed helping your sister by volunteering at a local hospital or hospice. Alternatively, you could perform some other type of volunteer work, take some courses at a community college, or investigate a new hobby.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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