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Philanthropy...Now that’s a big word! But what does it really mean? According to the Business Dictionary, the definition is quite simple. It is a Greek term, which directly translated means "love of mankind." Okay that makes sense! So it is an idea, event, or action that is done to better humanity and usually involves some sacrifice as opposed to being done for a profit motive.

Customarily when we think of philanthropy it is in regard to a major monetary gift however, I think it’s safe to say that this is actually not the case and in fact would include any gesture, no matter the size. This can be everything from the large six or seven figure gifts to the five dollars given to the choir at their car wash or even the time spent serving lunch at the local soup kitchen. I think we should also consider these gifts as cumulative over our lifetime. For example, if from the time I was 18 years old, once a week I added a dollar to the Ronald McDonald house slot in the drive thru. At 80 years old I would have given over $3,000. So you may say that’s not a huge donation but what if everyone did this? That’s right what if every drive thru customer in America put a dollar in that slot today? Wow! Can you imagine the effect?

What I am trying to say is we should start each day considering ourselves philanthropists, giving of our resources both financially and otherwise. Think of the positive impact that would have on charities and the people they serve! Small ripples can create great waves! We each have the opportunity to stimulate real change in our community, country and world through the power of a gift to help someone in need. This is a mentality that catches on and it’s infectious. The act of giving feels good! Our children witness our generosity and they mimic it in the future. The value of the gift is not relevant nor does it need to be monetary, a sacrifice of your time, energy and knowledge are just as valuable to the receiver. The reduction of governmental funding is a reality for most of the charitable entities in our community. Whether you realize it or not they can all benefit from additional help, to either maintain or expand services that are critical to individuals in your area. For most people, giving to charity is simply a matter of goodwill and generosity. However, in some cases there are tax benefits, and they can be significant. It may be possible as a result of such a tax deduction you are able to give even more.

In this is the Season of Giving and with the holidays fast approaching, perhaps this is the most opportune time to think about your philanthropic actions for the future.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”. -Churchill

The Coles County Council on Aging offices are located at the LifeSpan Center, 11021 E. Co. Rd. 800 N., Charleston. The telephone number is 217-639-5150 for the Coles County Council on Aging and LifeSpan Center. Come join us each weekday at noon for “Lunch at LifeSpan.”

Peace Meals, sponsored by Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, are served Monday through Friday at a suggested donation of $3.50. To register, reserve a lunch or learn more, call 217-348-1800.

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