A little goes a long way, even without celebrity

Alexandra Brell

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What do Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami of 2004, and the Haiti earthquake have in common? A celebrity-studded cry to raise money for victims followed each natural disaster.

There is nothing like the worst of Mother Nature to bring out the best in a celebrity. There is nothing like the best of a celebrity to bring ordinary citizens to action. Yet, it is unfortunate that sometimes the kindness of strangers is prompted by the appeals from the rich and famous.

I am not speaking of those who gave on their own volition or those who regularly donate to charities. I am speaking of people who do nothing for those less fortunate, unless a media-personality tells them to do so.

Add the above with a lemming-like stance so many people have with regard to celebrity culture. What results is slightly misguided humanity (or charity “light” – a third less sincerity than your regular altruism.) Stars dictate the latest fashion trends in clothes, cars and food. I suppose it’s a given that people should give to charity because the famous ask it of them and because people want to be just like them.

Of course, every little bit helps. I am 100 percent behind the true meaning of such a cliché but it is too bad charity can’t come from a purer reason to give.

Each of the aforementioned disasters all spawned benefit concerts; shows are nice as they provide visual aides to raise awareness for charitable causes and they have brought substantial financial donations to the world. The spectacle of tens or hundreds of thousands of lives lost should be enough to move people to action and not the spectacle of a TV show overflowing with famous faces.

The world is not lacking of people who are in need of our help. Yet charity is not a component of our mainstream culture. There is no visible push in society to give because you should. The “what can you do for me” attitude seems to prevail.

In relation to so much of the world, we are pretty blessed with good lives. Yes, famous people have ungodly amounts of disposable income, but quality and motivation of intention to give, not size of the donation, defines a charitable act.

The universe asks for our help in so many ways. Tsunamis and earthquakes cannot be helped nor timed and citizens should never look the other way when disaster strikes.

However, there are so many causes crying out with a whimper daily that don’t seem to get the attention they need. These causes seem silent because they lack a visible spokesperson but it doesn’t make them less important.

Many people may be struck with the “what kind of difference could I possibly make” attitude or they may say “I have no money to give.” It’s easy to be caught up in an “all or nothing” way of thinking. For example, if I can’t clean up the entire Santa Monica beach and the southern portion of Malibu too, then I’m not going to do anything at all. This can be overcome, though, by picking up one plastic bag at a time.

Disaster spurs charity but everyday presents an opportunity to give back, whether it is at home with family, among friends or to strangers. A cause that resonates with you should be easy to find.

While you may want to help, your schedule might not allow you to be involved the way you wish you could.We all have incredibly busy lives as students, employees, parents, etc, but just a little goes a long way. Putting forth the smallest amount of effort can turn good intentions into actions and allow you to make a difference.

Can I suggest that you do something, within the next week, for a stranger? Give blood, donate your old skateboard equipment to a Boys and Girls Club, take old towels to an animal shelter or give $5 to a charity online. Do it because no one is watching. Try to keep it a secret, too. It’s not about you.