For the cause


I used to be a slacker when it comes to charity. I didn’t give very much, and I certainly didn’t participate in any groups.

I waited for an invitation. I shouldn’t have.

My good works are but a tiny part of the larger whole.

It’s a start.


It troubles me when good people sit idly by, with so much need out there. Even with my spotty record, I push and prod and nag those around me to lend a hand.

It’s all I can do. I think.

I used to shun blood drives and donor centers. Now, I’m there every 56 days on the dot. One pint, 10 minutes, three lives — talk about a bargain.

Yes, I give and I give and I give. Of myself. In platelets and plasma.

The real action is with Big Brothers Big Sisters. A friend of a friend invited me to join the Young Advisory Board in 2003. I jumped at the opportunity.

I was overwhelmed. We had fund-raising to tackle. We had meetings to attend. We had recruiting to do.

I would need to be more outgoing, more demanding (in a nice way) and more creative. This wasn’t the world of newspaper deadlines and story planning.

I would need to care more.

Journalism is a safe refuge for me. I can care at a distance. I can remain uninvolved for basic reasons of ethics and credibility. The world can be a very bad place because it makes for interesting reading and brisk single-copy sales.

But charity work is about need. I need others, I depend on others. For me personally, that can be an uncomfortable thing, to be interdependent. I value my independence, my rogue ways.

That doesn’t work as well when I’m hitting you up for cash to keep the lights on and the doors open. I must appeal to your common decency, your liberal guilt, your conservative morals. I must be personable and hopeful. I must show that we are in dire straits, but it can be turned around. If only you’d meet us halfway.

It’s for a good cause, I tell myself. And it is.

When others are in fund-raising mode, I try and slip them something, anything. Because I know how difficult it is — I’ve been there. I stay there.

I believe in this cause. I actually think children are the future. I like seeing adults with time to give share that time with kids who are falling off the path. The charity itself is one of the best-rated best-run organizations in the country. I lucked out in joining up.

Apathy is a tough foe. It is my enemy, and I understand it little. But I’ve brought my friends into the fight, and we are making progress. It isn’t about how much money you can give — but we’ll take it — it’s about making that step. The nonprofits of the world run on good will: in cash gifts, in material goods, in volunteer labor, in time, in doing whatever it takes to leap the next hurdle.

My charity work has been rewarding. Spiritually, of course. But I can talk your ear off about this group. I can ask you for anything with relatively no shame or hesitation. I can show up on a chilly morning in church parking lot to stick hay bales on a parade float because we need to.

I am enriched by the people I meet, the people I solicit, the people I help, the people I learn from.

I am more in the world than before.

With me, the glass can be very half empty. I still see how much is left to do, how much more I could be doing. It is challenging, frustrating, tiring.

I have been lucky enough to meet a few of the Littles, and they are sufficient inspiration. We owe them.

You can believe in God. You can believe in nothing. You can believe in people. You can believe in the universe. But to believe is a beginning. To care is a choice for making the world better.

I do care. And it is a start.

• • •

Bowl For Kids Sake is an annual fund-raiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham. Companies form teams to find sponsors, raise money and bowl at local alleys.

Your generosity helps this nonprofit organization match boys and girls from seven counties with adult role models. It is their chance to succeed in life when others have failed them.

Big Brothers Big Sisters has been in overdrive in the last 12 months. It collected supplies for children fleeing Katrina who landed in Birmingham. It partnered with churches to find Bigs for children of inmates. And it moved to its very own building on Southside.

I’m captain of the Media of Birmingham team, and I need your help. In 2005, I raised more than $400, but my goal for 2006 is $1,000.

Your tax-deductible gift will help this worthy cause continue its mission to help deserving children and volunteer mentors pair up into unbeatable teams.

Please, give today. And if you’re interested in finding out other ways you can help Big Brothers Big Sisters, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you.


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