My friends and I eagerly roamed around 17th street with boxes full of essential items, snacks and goodies in our hands. We witnessed, first hand, impoverished areas of San Diego not too distant from our snug, air-conditioned homes. There were a vast amount of homeless people on the street, some under rusty tents while others lacked the “roof” over their heads. I was initially cautious as I didn’t know what to expect nor did I know how they would react, but it turned out that they were more cautious of us than we were of them. Some were curious, some eager and some hesitant but the connections that were made were remarkable.
The adventure began.
2. Aktive Life Charity Tournament
4. Memorable Story
5. Photo Gallery
What drives you to donate or help others?
For me, it’s witnessing the impact first-hand. I will contribute otherwise as well, but if I can directly see that my contribution is making an impact, I am more likely to continue contributing. The visual of the impact is crucial. Additionally, I often want to help particularly for causes or pressing matters that are close to my heart such as senior citizens, low-income families, children in need and animal abuse but am baffled on how to take the first step. The difficulty of initiation creates an obstacle which delays, or even stops, me from advancing forward.
All charities are great in their own way and have a similar vision to create a positive impact on society. However, often, bigger charities oversee individual help needed or smaller, local causes. This can potentially cut the connection that otherwise would be made from between the contributor and the receiver.
Every day I drive all around San Diego and witness an array of homeless people. Some walk with all of their possessions stuffed in a shopping cart and scout for their next meal or place to stay. Others stand on the side of the street and request for a dollar or meal. Yet I do nothing about it. I do nothing to better their lives though I am fortunate enough to do so. And coincidentally, my friends feel the very same way. In fact, most people have the desire and inclination to support those in need but the first step needed to make progress is the hurdle that stops them.
However, the initiation is sometimes as simple as providing a funnel such as a fundraising page to donate through which clearly displays where the funds are going to. Or, creating a plan of action and inviting others to be a part of it to form an impact first-hand. With the help of others, the initial step becomes much simpler.
Additionally, emphasizing the end result to create the connection between both the contributor and the receiver is imperative. If someone approached me asking for a donation of $50 and stating the plan of action that the donation will go directly to a particular low-income family of four and help them get groceries they need for the month until they find a long-lasting impact, I, or anyone else, would be more likely to donate. The vision is clear, the impact is direct and the connection can be formed.
Aktive Life Charity Tournament
To overcome the hurdles listed above and to raise awareness and get more people involved in a good cause, I held a small-scale charity volleyball tournament. A stress-relieving, Tuesday-night, post-work tournament with friends. I asked a few friends to form a team, pay a nominal fee and play a sport which they already love and in just three hours, a remarkable $320 was raised.
By simply taking part in the tournament, each one of the members contributed in creating a positive impact in their city while having fun. It was a simple and effortless initiative which improved the lives of others.
Over 20 homeless people of all ages and background were provided with care kits and other goodies with the funds that were raised.
Each care kit contained: (1) Colgate toothbrush, (2) Colgate toothpastes, (multiple) Medline combs, (3) Fiber One bars (1) Clif Bar, (1) Wet Ones pack of 20, (multiple) Band-Aid adhesive bandages, (2) Fruit of the Loom pairs of socks and (2) tumblers. My friends added a few more items, as well, including V8 juice bottles and Always feminine products for women.
I am grateful I was able to share this initiative with my friends and we were able to make an impact together. We were met with all types of personalities. Some grateful, some calm, some eager and some who wanted to be left alone. One particular gentleman even shared some if his items with a friend despite his own living situation. Now, my friends and I carry some basic essentials in our cars to quickly hand out to those in need when we drive around daily.
Another gentleman, pictured, was eager to just have someone to talk to and express his life stories with. I am somewhat biased towards struggling older men – I guess they remind me of my father and his struggling days – but when I was with him, I couldn’t stop listening to his stories. He spoke about his times in the war, his children, his friends and other stories and incidents that were near and dear to his heart. He had no complaints about his living situation and simply spoke from the heart and I truly believe that more than the items and goodies that were given to him, open ears and an open heart is what he valued more.
I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to conduct this in San Diego. I am thankful to have a great group of friends who are just as passionate about such causes and want to continue creating a difference. And, I am thankful that together, we were able to raise awareness and make an impact in our local community. Together, we can make a lasting impact.
“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
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