Philanthropy trumps reality television

I was just a few years out of asking Santa to bring me whatever was on my personal list when I discovered how much better it feels to give to someone than to constantly expect to receive from others. The feelings I got from helping my mom pick out gifts for less fortunate children in Honduras made me feel better than I ever did by receiving a couple of toys.

I also participated in several philanthropy projects while in high school and got a lot of the experiences. I was again reminded of how good it felt to do something that made me happy and helped others at the same time.

The recent holidays and the unfortunate disaster in Haiti has brought to light the constant need for giving and looking out mankind. But, in the last few weeks it has become increasingly obvious that there is something missing from my routine as a student and as a member of the Atlanta community. It has become apparent to me that for about a year I have been missing an integral part of being a decent person: volunteering.

Quite honestly for the last year I have just plain sucked at giving away a significant portion of my time to philanthropy efforts. Yes, I have given plenty of time to work and school. I have given time to my friends and maybe not as much as I should have to my family.

But, I have given the bare minimum for what I would consider to be a fair contribution to our community. Sure, I’ve donated cans and made cards for veterans. I’ve even helped socialize a couple of cats. But none of these things have really given me that sense of giving and that leaves me with a weird sense of longing to do something that really makes a difference for someone else.

It’s not like there aren’t plenty of opportunities around me; Tech students are contributing to the community in countless ways everyday. I see some of my peers doing really interesting things around the community and I always think, “wow, I wish I had time for that.”

I’m starting to believe that those people that are involved in volunteer organizations don’t really have time for the philanthropy that they’re involved in either. Rather, they are so passionate about the cause that they make time for it. If so many of my fellow Techies can make time for this then why can’t I?

So, in the spirit of giving that I wish to extend from the holiday season, I have resolved to devote the time spent sitting around watching reality TV shows to do some volunteer work. I plan on finding a few organizations that I feel passionate about and contributing some free time to them. My plan is to avoid the “resume filler” organizations and go for something that has a cause that compels me to donate my time. Hopefully this will keep my volunteer work from ever feeling like an obligation.

As mentioned before, it should not be difficult to find organizations around Tech that offer a great opportunity for philanthropy. Many students and alumni have started organizations that benefit the Atlanta area and some of these organizations reach beyond our city limits to extend a helping hand worldwide.

There has never been an easier time to get involved in philanthropy organizations than now as many of them have been taxed by the great need of relief from those suffering from the effects of the economy. And, one of the better aspects of giving ones time is that it often requires little money; that is a definite positive since many college students often find themselves broke.

Volunteering also offers a small break from the busy hustle and bustle of Tech life. We often become so absorbed in what projects are due, what is going to be on the next test and turning in the latest homework that we become secluded from the community around us. Volunteering can offer a small break from our bubble here and offers a chance for Tech students to really make some significant changes in our community.

So, have you noticed yourself spending more time watching reality shows than spending time giving back to your community, like me? If the answer is yes then I urge you to join me in finding an organization that you feel passionate about and devote some time to helping others. Getting involved in something that you believe needs to change will ultimately help our community and create a better environment for all of us.