Monday, August 23, 2010

85th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

One Surprising Question
Late last week Pauline Hechler, VP of Development at the Community Food Bank invited me again to speak about One Can A Week to Mrs. Pamela Stein’s Life Skills class at the Gridley Middle School on Harrison and Broadway. I could only make the morning session but any time I get to talk to kids is great. Last year I told them they don't have to wait until they were adults to help people in need. It was only words and they had a little difficulty grasping the concept. Today I had some hard facts to show them. Over the weekend, I Googled "6-year-old helps food bank" and got back a bunch of news stories featuring kids in all kinds of fund raising projects. They thought of the idea and through their efforts—with a little help from their proud but astonished parents—generated a lot of food and/or money, not to mention media attention.

I then Googled 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12-year-old food bank donors and got lots of great stories from all over the country. When I pasted the ninth story on the white board, (covering Pauline's bullet points) I had their undivided attention. All it takes I told them was a passion to help and a little assistance from some adults and they, too, can make a difference.

Most of that passion can come from a simple decision they can make right now. Do they want to be a good person, a so-so person or a bad person? It is really their personal choice and now is a perfect point in their lives to make it. If they decide to be a good person and take the high road, decisions about what to do in most situations are clear. Then all they have to do is follow "The Golden Rule."

“Who knows what The Golden Rule is?" I asked. One kid with his hand over his mouth mumbled a one word something. I asked and he repeated it a couple of times until I finally heard "silence." With that guess, I can just imagine what his life is like at home.

I looked around the class and a boy near the back of the room finally spoke up, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Not one of the other 30-plus sixth graders heard of the axiom. Pauline, the teacher and I looked at each in utter amazement.

At lunch, Pauline suggested that perhaps the reason for the void was cultural or lifestyle related. I replied that The Golden Rule is stated emphatically in all of the major religions of the world. I mentioned to her I carry around a graphic chart in my briefcase that names the religion and provides the wording of its Golden Rule. Each is somewhat different but the meaning is unmistakably the same.

I'm still disheartened that a whole classroom of middle school kids is not aware of one of humankind’s most universal teachings…respect for each other. Maybe to fix the mess we are in, we should just start teaching The Golden Rule. It sure couldn’t hurt.

Funny, Money is the Key to Generosity but Not Like You Think
The New York Times headline read “The Charitable-Giving Divide.” Bill Gates along with Warren Buffett and 38 other wealthy philanthropists—who are destine to give away at least half of their wealth when they leave this earth—were in the opening paragraphs but these folks are the exception. According to Judith Warner, the author of the article, “Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization focused on charitable giving, found that households earning less than $25,000 a year gave away an average of 4.2 percent of their incomes; those with earnings of more than $75,000 gave away 2.7 percent.”

Other researchers report that wealthy folks are more interested
in values that "prioritized their own needs" like supporting their schools where their names end up on buildings or they get coveted seats on prestigious boards. Not-so-wealthy folks were more “generous, charitable and trusting” and understood the needs of others.

But here’s the rub. When roles were reversed in studies, wealthy folks who thought themselves poor were quite generous and poor folks who thought themselves rich were less generous. Generosity or lack there of, is a matter of one’s perspective, real or imagined. As a marketer, this fact bowled me over. Now all I have to do is think of concepts that will open the empathy doors and windows in mansions all over town. What will get very rich folks to think about what it is like to be poor? But wait, I think I have to figure out how to head off the panic attacks such thoughts will cause first.

This Was a Hot One…Literally
By the time I picked up Miles and headed for Lenny’s house on 12th Street, I was 30 minutes into the run and really feeling the heat. There was no breeze to speak of and I don’t drive very fast.

By 12 noon, I was home and took a full hour to eat my lunch in front of the fan. Cooler and delighted by a slight breeze that greeted me at my door, I finished the afternoon run in much better physical shape. Got to have a breeze or no darn humidity to enjoy my rounds.

We collected a total of 145 lbs. of food, including 3 lbs. of pet food and 16 lbs. from the Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $35.43…one check for $25.00 and $10.43 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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