The UK Red Cross has reported that the British public has been “overwhelmingly generous” toward what has become the biggest refugee exodus seen in Europe since the Second World War.
Response to the Refugee Crisis Appeal has garnered offers of everything from flapjacks to “seven cubic meters of trainers” which, I believe are lots of shoes!
A 40-bedroom hotel in Devon donated its space and someone gave their holiday home in France to house a refugee family.
Red Cross telephone lines have been inundated with gifts of every kind, and they are trying to funnel donations of coats, clothes and shoes to those other charities that can quickly get items to people in need.
Meanwhile businesses have also backed the appeal. Companies such as Tesco, HSBC, Barclays, GSK, AstraZeneca and Thomas Cook Children’s Charity have donated hundreds of thousands of pounds, while soccer fans in Scotland, the Scottish government and cities like Liverpool have also helped boost funds.
What always moves me about situations like this is the amazing goodness that exists in people. Each, doing what they can do.
I am especially aware of the companies that are giving away what otherwise would be profits to their shareholders. Businesses are often given a bad rap when it comes to generosity, but clearly there are many businesses that have a caring and generous mind-set that directs their actions in times of crisis.
According to experts, the U.S. probably won’t have an influx of any of these refugees for a year or more. But, in the interim, Europeans and especially the Brits are taking care of business, thinking not of themselves, but of those in trouble.
There is a ocean of goodness in each of us. Some people go through life and only dip a toe in, but others jump in with both feet and splash around.
Jim and I met in college and came from families that expected us to work and accomplish something. I say that because I think we probably put too much emphasis on getting ahead and all that it implies. We married young and after college we both started entrepreneurial careers. Ending up in the publishing business, we invested in our companies and sometimes they worked out, and sometimes they didn’t. But, as they say, we never missed a meal.
On a vacation with our kids, shortly before 9/11, Jim had an accident and almost lost his life. He was paralyzed for a time, and we didn’t know if his spinal cord would ever heal and allow him to walk or use his hands again. So life as we knew it changed dramatically. Jim had just started a consulting business and I was needed to care for his every need, so needless to say, our jobs were over for the time being.
Miraculously, as the months went by, Jim got better. But the experience really changed our view of - well - just about everything. After Jim's paralysis subsided, he arranged for Christopher Reeve to come to town for a fund raiser for our local rehabilitation hospital. Chris' visit was a great success and gave us a peek into a world of generous living that was beyond what we had ever experienced before.
Our view of the world had expanded like one of those flat dry little sponges that get huge when you throw them in hot water. We had been thrown in hot water for sure. I’m not saying we have everything figured out now, but we do know life is not just about logos on your clothes and country club memberships. What matters is the kind of world you leave behind when it’s all over.
One of my favorite people says “drive by any junk yard and you’ll see the toys of people’s adult lives. That’s where everything ends up." Not that we shouldn't have nice things, just that "things" are not the foundations of a meaningful life. Which brings to mind an old German saying that goes: What I spent, I had, what I saved I lost, what I gave I have. I guess Jim and I have come to know that is true.
World Changing Generosity, our book, is a love letter to all those who practice the great art of loving others. We hope you'll read the book and see why we are humbled by the stories of ordinary people who have done extraordinarily generous things. We also hope, through the pages of WCG you'll find your own place in the movement of generous people who are working to change the world. You don’t have to be rich, just available, as you will see.
Please post on this site. Tell us about your journeys of generosity...what you think. What it meant. If you have difficulty with decisions about giving money. I think we've been there on most of these issues too. Let us hear from you!