Main Street Philanthropy Week 10

I will not forget my experience with Main Street Philanthropy, and while the things I will remember most are numerous, the one thing I will not forget is going house to house asking for donations. It not only was my first time doing something like that, I had a chance to meet my neighbors and discover their kindness. Before that, to me they were simply people who existed behind closed doors. Actually going up to their doorstep and telling them about this class gave me a sense of pride because they were genuinely interested in what we were doing. They gave up some of their own time to stand there on their front stoop on a day that was very cold. That was the day they became real to me, instead of shadows that rippled curtains in the window from time to time. The most valuable lesson I learned in Main Street Philanthropy was that no matter what age one is, he can make a difference. I went into this class very skeptical. I knew we were going to raise money and give it to someone somewhere, but I did not know where that money was going come from or how we were going to get it. As the weeks went by, my confidence grew and so did my group’s progress. We started out a bit slowly, but soon after one decision and action led to others, faster and faster, and we ended up with a great sum of money in the end to donate. After this experience I would most definitely give my time and money in the future because I have seen what I can do and how far I can go with it. The reason I would have been more hesitant in the beginning was I did not know where it would lead me, and I was too afraid to try and see. This class led me to testing my limits and I found that they were farther than I thought. To nonprofit organizations looking for support from philanthropists, I would tell them to act like they really want it. They have to be able to tell me exactly what they do and why they do it. I need to know if they are sincere in what they do or simply want more help in doing just another thing for random people who need help. They will not earn the support, well, my support, anyway, of others if they seem too laid back about their cause. Genuineness is something I personally look for in the people who lead an organization. I want to see in their eyes that they truly believe and are truly devoted to their cause because just trying to make me feel sorry for them is not going to cut it. It is not enough for someone to plead that he needs help because the organization is short a lot of people, or it needs more money to continue doing the wonderful things it is doing right now to help those in need. I group organizations into two groups: one that is concerned about funding the organization and one that is devoted to the cause. Because those that are devoted to their cause will not constantly worry about how much money they have or what materials they need because it is all about giving to them. To other schools considering this program, I would say that it is worth it. It involves a lot of hard work and dedication, but it pays off in the end. It really is a rewarding experience because one does not come across a class like this often. It is class where the teacher guides here and there, but the students lead. It is up to them where they want to take it and how far they want to go. Donors who are considering funding a class like this one would really be impressed with how much is taught in ten weeks. They should invest in this class because it provides a unique, hands-on experience for kids to learn how to give back to the community. And when presented with a choice to be given $25 to keep or be given $250 to give away, after taking this class, the decision, as it was for me, is instantaneous. I would choose to be given $250 to give away in a heartbeat. But honestly, if I chose the $25 instead, I would probably end up giving that away anyway. This choice one has to make represents the whole idea of giving: if you take the $25, you can do a lot with it, but if you choose to take the $250 and give it away, you can do so much more. This class does not only teach kids how to donate wisely and be more comfortable reaching out to charities, but it also teaches children to be real philanthropists, and not the kind that gives huge sums of money to those in need, but the kind that cares about others. Nothing in the definition of philanthropy mentions anything about money, as I learned in the first week of class. We are here to give, to encourage others to give, and to replace selfishness with selflessness.

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