100 Days of Reckless Philanthropic Abandon

This summer provides us with exactly 100 days from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Summertime offers some of the best opportunities to reach out and touch others, to share our wealth, to make a gesture that likely will never be forgotten by its recipient.

I encourage you to commit to Summer 2005 as your own personal "100 Days of Reckless Philanthropic Abandon." Don't make the mistake of believing that you have to be financially well-to-do to be a great philanthropist, as illustrated in the following list of ideas for living well and enjoying this summer:

  • Stop and make generous purchases at all lemonade stands.

  • Leave a significant donation for your favorite "find" from summer vacation - the historical society that runs a fantastic local museum, the lighthouse restoration team, the national park foundation.

  • Grill the dog his very own hamburger.

  • Give an extra special and loving smile to the workers at the traveling carnival.

  • Call the local Boy or Girl Scouts or church and provide a camp scholarship for a kid who otherwise can't attend.

  • Strap yourself into the wildest ride at the amusement park, and when the change falls out of your pockets just hope that it lands where someone else will feel fortunate to have found it. Find a penny yourself, remembering that the real gift is its reminder, "In God We Trust."

  • Cut a few of the flowers from your yard and take them to a friend, an acquaintance at work, a stranger in the nursing home.

  • Patronize the ice cream man, and buy a treat for one of the kids who doesn't have any money for his own.

  • Spend one lunch hour every week sitting in the park, and bring along some food for the ducks or your harmonica for the passersby.

  • Buy a roll of quarters and carry a few coins with you for plugging the expired meters of parked cars.

  • Paint toenails, do a hair wrap or apply a fake tattoo for a young friend.

  • Buy a 4-H project at the county fair, even if you haven't always wanted a knitted pillow cover. Buy the paper poppy from the veteran selling them in front of the Post Office. Buy your daughter the cotton candy, and your son the little American flag to wave at the 4th of July parade.

  • Surprise the elderly neighbor by mowing his lawn.

  • Put another five in the plate at church (yes, a stolen line from a popular country song). Say an extra prayer for a soldier, a prisoner, the mentally ill.

  • Climb on the roof and count the stars with a friend. Whoever counts the most, the other person contributes that many dimes to the March of Dimes.

  • Play skeeball at the arcade and give your winning tickets to a younger patron so s/he can get some Chinese handcuffs, a whoopee cushion or a superball.

  • Write the biggest check you've ever written to your favorite cause when your tax return arrives in the mail.

  • When in Telluride to restock on camping supplies, stick one of your favorite shirts or sweaters in the free box. Or take a favorite pair of shoes to the domestic violence shelter.

  • Take the few extra minutes to pull into the high school fundraising car wash; tip generously.

  • Do anything you're passionate about; share it with someone who will never otherwise have the opportunity.

  • Buy a tank of gas for a friend.

  • Let your kids eat the zucchini bread and skip the zucchini.

  • Offer the fly ball you catch to the little guy sitting in the stands a few seats down.

  • Grow the cherries, pick the cherries, pit the cherries, bake the pie and give it to the biggest cherry fan you know.

  • Buy a little piggy bank and fill it with your loose change; take the unopened bank to the children's hospital. Buy a whole collection of $2 flippy sandals in many colors and sizes and take them to Girls, Inc. Buy a pass to the water slide for a kid at the public pool on free day.

  • Give a homeless person a gift card to a local restaurant.

  • Listen to the birds, then send a few dollars to the organization best making sure that the birds want to still hang out in your neighborhood.

  • Pick up a piece of trash or two.

  • Start a new Memorial Day tradition by making a memorial gift in honor of a loved one.

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