The spirit of giving

The motives that drive people to contribute to special causes are widely varied and complicated. Many of us give because we feel that we benefited from a great childhood filled with abundance, and there are just as many who share because we had the worst possible life as kids and have vowed that no one else should suffer as we did. Some speak of our generosity nonstop on nationally syndicated talk shows and others demure to even have our names appear on an annual report.

The family behind Carmel Financial, Tom and Soni Sheehan, have dedicated much of their lives to create a family foundation to help children – all following the death of their young son, Tim, in 1973 of cancer. Led by example, their daughter Tracey is becoming an important philanthropist in her own right. Their gifts will help scores for generations.

Alan Symons, owner of Breath of Life a provider of home healthcare gear in Westfield, found himself on a flight last month when the attendant asked passengers to consider a donation to support breast cancer awareness as part of a special month-long program. After about 2 hours and paltry donations, Symons stepped up and organized the staff with baskets like Sunday at church. The newly motivated (and entertained) passengers dug a little deeper – and then another flier, inspired by the effort and remembering his own sister’s fight, offered to match whatever was collected. Ultimately, the flight raised the most of any during the airline’s promotion.

Whatever the motivation, generosity is good. Check out YouTube videos of both these stories and be inspired. The Sheehan’s narrative was captured by the local community foundation; and with Symons, another traveler caught the act on a cellphone and posted it all. At this time of national thanksgiving, it is good to be reminded of the best in us, be it grand or humble. For it, I am grateful.