Make a Wish Come True

By Cheryl Mahoney

“People want to help people.”

This was a thought expressed by Dave Girgenti in a recent USA Today article: “Website Connects Needy to the Charitable.”  Girgenti is the founder of Wish Upon a Hero, which does just what the USA Today headline suggests: connecting people in need with people who want to help.
Wish Upon a Hero is a website where anyone can post their wish–and anyone can help fulfill it.  I glanced over the wishes on the front page, and found requests for gifts for family members, pleas for help to make a rent payment, hope that someone will assist with schooling, a need for special equipment for a handicapped sibling…some wishes are big, but many are just people who need a little bit of help.  Check it out and see what you find, but be warned–some stories are heartbreaking.

It reminds me that what most of us probably take for granted–money for rent, the ability to buy a gift–can be someone else’s dearest wish.

So often people say, “I wish I could help someone, but I don’t know how.”  And so many people are saying, “I wish someone could help me.”  Wish Upon a Hero brings these two groups together –and it’s working.  According to the counter on the site, almost 31,000 wishes have been granted so far.  With those results, one could almost imagine they’re using pixie dust!

A Lesson in Giving From the Great Depression

By Cheryl Mahoney

Many have made comparisons between our current economic situation and the Great Depression of the 1930s.  I recently read a wonderful article in The New York Times that took a slightly different angle on this subject: looking back to the Great Depression for an example of how to give during a hard time.

Ted Gup wrote an Op-Ed piece for The Times about a story of giving from the Great Depression.  Just before Christmas in 1933, a letter appeared in the local newspaper in Canton, Ohio, inviting those in need of relief to write in with their stories.  “Mr. B. Virdot” promised to write checks to help tide people over the holidays.   Hundreds of letters poured in, and checks went out, signed B. Virdot, mostly in the amounts of five or ten dollars.  In the end, B. Virdot sent out $750 to people in need–much more money then than now.  The mystery is, Canton, Ohio was a relatively small town (slightly over 100,000 people) and no one in it was named B. Virdot.

B. Virdot turned out to be Samuel J. Stone, the article-writer’s grandfather.  He had given the money anonymously, some of it to people he knew personally.  So anonymously, in fact, that his grandson only recently found out the truth.

What struck me in this story is how such a seemingly small thing can really be such a big thing.  Five dollars or ten dollars, then as now, probably won’t change someone’s life–but it can make a difference.  I imagine that it was not so much the money that helped, as the feeling that someone cared, and was willing to be generous as a result.  What a beautiful example this is of sharing what we have with the people around us who need a little help, and without expecting anything in return–even recognition.

No resource or charity to click today.  Just a story about giving, in small ways or big, and coming together in a difficult time to help where we can.

Good News Stories, Please!

By Cheryl Mahoney

Sometimes I wonder why I look at the news.  I want to “be informed.”  I want to “know what’s going on.”  But as a rule, “what’s going on” tends to be incredibly depressing.  That’s when I start wondering.

Sunday afternoon I was looking at The San Francisco Chronicle and reading headlines out-loud to my roommates.  “Problem persists” for the homeless.  “Mexico’s economy slammed by epidemic.”  Swine flu, war in Iraq, foreclosed houses, floods in Brazil, violence in Gaza.  And I was in the middle of asking, “Why am I reading all this?” when buried on page A7 I stumbled across a one-paragraph item.

“The University of Alaska Anchorage has been given $7 million by a mystery donor who has now contributed more than $81 million to 15 colleges run by women.”

Now THAT is a good news story.  Why don’t we put that on page one?  Donating money to colleges is inspiring.  Doing it anonymously–now that’s really inspiring.  Too often donations become a PR stunt, and though there may be real dedication to the cause involved, there’s also a lot of publicity involved when they put up a plaque for you.  But to give that kind of money anonymously…there’s someone who clearly must have the true spirit of giving.  My thanks, because not only did he/she help a lot of colleges, my Sunday afternoon was brightened too.

neighborhood

On the subject of good news, I found another wonderful article in The Washington Post on Monday, “In Recession Some See Burst of ‘Neighboring.'”  The article is all about neighborhoods who have come together during hard times.  Where there used to be individuals, now there’s a real community.  Things have changed with the poor economy, but in these neighborhoods, for the relationships between these neighbors, things have changed for the better. 

It’s like an antidote to the story about foreclosed homes.  I do want to be informed, but I’d like to know when it was decided that only bad news was news.  Positive things happen in the world too, and I love it when I find a good news story.

Good news is inspiring.  Of course, I don’t have $7 million to give anyone.  But anyone can say hello to a neighbor.

Make a Wish Come True

By Cheryl Mahoney

“People want to help people.”

This was a thought expressed by Dave Girgenti in a recent USA Today article: “Website Connects Needy to the Charitable.”  Girgenti is the founder of Wish Upon a Hero, which does just what the USA Today headline suggests: connecting people in need with people who want to help.

fairyWish Upon a Hero is a website where anyone can post their wish–and anyone can help fulfill it.  I glanced over the wishes on the front page, and found requests for gifts for family members, pleas for help to make a rent payment, hope that someone will assist with schooling, a need for special equipment for a handicapped sibling…some wishes are big, but many are just people who need a little bit of help.  Check it out and see what you find, but be warned–some stories are heart-breaking.

It reminds me that what most of us probably take for granted–money for rent, the ability to buy a gift–can be someone else’s dearest wish.

So often people say, “I wish I could help someone, but I don’t know how.”  And so many people are saying, “I wish someone could help me.”  Wish Upon a Hero brings these two groups together–and it’s working.  According to the counter on the site, almost 31,000 wishes have been granted so far.  With those results, one could almost imagine they’re using pixie dust!

A Lesson in Giving From the Great Depression

money

By Cheryl Mahoney

Many have made comparisons between our current economic situation and the Great Depression of the 1930s.  I recently read a wonderful article in The New York Times that took a slightly different angle on this subject: looking back to the Great Depression for an example of how to give during a hard time.

Ted Gup wrote an Op-Ed piece for The Times about a story of giving from the Great Depression.  Just before Christmas in 1933, a letter appeared in the local newspaper in Canton, Ohio, inviting those in need of relief to write in with their stories.  “Mr. B. Virdot” promised to write checks to help tide people over the holidays.   Hundreds of letters poured in, and checks went out, signed B. Virdot, mostly in the amounts of five or ten dollars.  In the end, B. Virdot sent out $750 to people in need–much more money then than now.  The mystery is, Canton, Ohio was a relatively small town (slightly over 100,000 people) and no one in it was named B. Virdot.

B. Virdot turned out to be Samuel J. Stone, the article-writer’s grandfather.  He had given the money anonymously, some of it to people he knew personally.  So anonymously, in fact, that his grandson only recently found out the truth.

What struck me in this story is how such a seemingly small thing can really be such a big thing.  Five dollars or ten dollars, then as now, probably won’t change someone’s life–but it can make a difference.  I imagine that it was not so much the money that helped, as the feeling that someone cared, and was willing to be generous as a result.  What a beautiful example this is of sharing what we have with the people around us who need a little help, and without expecting anything in return–even recognition.

No resource or charity to click today.  Just a story about giving, in small ways or big, and coming together in a difficult time to help where we can.