The word charity means different things to different people, and you can easily have your own concept of what it means to have a charitable spirit. For today’s post we are going to say that a charitable spirit means to have that deep inner feeling, which moves you to act with kindness or goodwill towards others expecting nothing in return.
There are a number of synonyms or similar words to describe charity that may ring true for you. Perhaps they resonate more with your values and beliefs. Here are a few based on the definitions from Merriam-Webster:
- Altruism: “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of other’s feelings and behavior that show a desire to help other people and a lack of selfishness”
- Benevolence: “disposition to do good: (a): an act of kindness, (b): a generous gift”
- Compassion: “a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.; sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”
- Generosity: “the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish: the quality of being generous; especially: willingness to give money and other valuable things to others”
That being said, the words or phrases you use to describe charity are not as important as it is to actually take action to help those who are in need.
Participating in charitable work is one of the best ways to develop your sense of purpose and experience a more balanced and peaceful life.
To fully embrace this new spirit, it’s important to shift your focus to philanthropy, which is “a love for humanity.” Caring for others is the foundation for developing a love for philanthropy.
Philanthropy does not necessarily mean starting a million-dollar foundation for the local hospital or operating an outreach hot line to support victims of social injustices. Instead, philanthropy means caring for anyone in need and reaching out to help.
If you are looking for ideas, here are a few for you to consider:
Care for children at an orphanage. Orphanages need financial support to ensure that services can be maintained. However, one-on-one care for the children being housed is even more important. Actually “getting your hands dirty” is one of the most selfless things you can do.
Lend your services to help care for and feed the children at the nearest children’s’ home. Be charitable with your time and your attention for the children. Activities like these that make children feel important, loved, and listened to can really change their lives, and will like change your life too.
If you are looking for something more to do, consider planning quarterly birthday parties for the kids so they feel special and important when their birthdays are being celebrated. Consider reaching out to others to help with gifts, supplies, and food to make each party extra special. Many local businesses are happy to help in exchange for some recognition.
Reach out to the homeless. Although it’s difficult to think about, there are many, many homeless people in our communities, and many different reasons that they became homeless. If you watch closely, and think about it, you’ll likely realize that you walk or drive past homeless individuals on a regular basis without a second thought. Consider changing that approach by reaching out to lend a helping hand!
You may not have the ability to change thousands of lives, but you can start by changing one. Is there one homeless person you can identify who is always on the same street corner? Try “adopting” that person by providing a hot meal regularly, or a weekly care package with water, snacks, toiletries, and other needed items. Ask your neighbors to donate gently used clothing or personal care items so you can share them with the guests at a local homeless shelter or organization that serves the homeless. Volunteer at a local shelter and get to know the guests, learn their stories, offer a nonjudgmental ear.
Consider donating time and supplies to your local food pantry. Many families depend on the generosity of others to make ends meet. There is no reason to feel shame if you are doing your best, but still need some extra help. Many local food pantries exist to help whoever needs it, no questions asked, allowing residents to maintain their dignity. They generally have a very minimal budget, so any donations – food, money, or time – are welcomed. It’s always best to contact them ahead of time to see what their needs are, and the best way you can help.
The true purpose of philanthropy is to help you develop a charitable spirit. This will allow you to help others in need, while learning to appreciate all that you have. You may soon realize how blessed you are, which will bring you that much closer to living a genuinely charitable life.
It’s important to acknowledge the needs of others so that your charitable input can truly be effective. If you take a look around, you’ll find many opportunities to develop a charitable spirit. People everywhere are in need! Each of us can take part in helping to fulfill those needs.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.
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