When is the last time that you did something nice just because it was a nice thing to do?
For those of you who have never lived in poverty—I mean in a household where you eat the same thing every day and getting new clothes mean hand-me-downs from older siblings—it must be difficult to understand the true meaning of volunteering. To truly volunteer, there can be no expectation of reward or recognition. There should be a sense of gratitude toward the persons that you serve. If you have never experienced, this then I invite you to slow down and engage in a volunteer activity that helps the elderly and the very poor right here in America.
I went on a mission to Honduras at the beginning of this year. The services performed were most needed. I saw altruism at its best. I also saw an unfamiliar spirit among some of the volunteers: I overheard a person say, “ I hope God was looking, because I did my good deed for the year.” The comment saddened me. It was clear that that the purpose for this person was to get brownie points from God. Americans do not have to leave America to look for impoverished people to help. From the comment that I overheard, I surmise that the trip to another country is more dramatic and gets the volunteer more brownie points.
The number of non-elderly American households with children living on less than $2 per day has more than doubled in the last 15 years. Extreme poverty — defined as areas where at least 40 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty line, which in 2010 was $22,300 for a family of four. The number of neighborhoods of extreme poverty grew in roughly three-quarters of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.
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