Mindful Giving: Donating with Dignity


“I have no right to say or do anything that diminishes a man in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him but what he thinks of himself. Hurting a man in his dignity is a crime.”

 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

It’s holiday time and this time of year, perhaps more than any other, we open our hearts and give to those less fortunate than we are. After all, that’s the very essence of the holiday spirit, right? Giving freely is a wonderful thing but we need to keep in mind that it is not up to us to judge who we are giving to or to consider those folks victims. It is important that we give mindfully, with awareness and generosity of spirit.

Mindful Food Donations…

If you choose to donate food to be distributed via food pantries or other organizations please check expiration dates as well as the type of food you are donating. I offer this as a reminder because I’ve seen firsthand that people clean out their cabinets without looking.

When you donate food, there are designated people who sort the food and checks the expiration dates. Several years back one of those people was me. As I went through what I thought was kind and generous donations I found food items with expiration dates that were more than 10 years old.

After having to throw out item after item I finally broke down in ugly cry tears. I could not understand the lack of thought and awareness. Yes, people were giving but it was not mindful, aware or filled with grace and dignity.

I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to have to ask for food in a society that is filled with abundance. A place where people don’t think twice about purchasing a cell phone with all the bells and whistles and yet you and your family don’t have enough food to eat or socks, coats, and gloves, let alone holiday gifts.

How about we change the narrative and start a new plan of mindful giving and donating with dignity? If you’re already doing this, thank you with all my heart. There is no shame in not having enough nor should there be shame in needing a hand up. There is just as much energy around how and what we give as there is with anything else. Let’s level up to mindful living and giving!

What do I give?

Be mindful of who you are giving to. Who is possibly receiving it and what are they receiving? Is it a homeless Mom with a baby or small children? Is it someone who is used to eating healthy but has hit hard times? Is it a family who mostly eats soup just to stave off the hunger? When it comes to food items while a bag of potato chips is nice, keep it healthy. Here’s a list of 20 items that food banks truly need. (List reprinted from Taste of Home)

1. Applesauce
2. Canned Beans
3. Canned Chicken
4. Canned Fish (Tuna and Salmon)
5. Canned Meat (SPAM and Ham)
6. Canned Vegetables
7. Cooking Oils (Olive and Canola)
8. Crackers
9. Dried Herbs and Spices
10. Fruit (Canned or Dried)
11. Granola Bars
12. Instant Mashed Potatoes
13. Meals in a Box
14. Nuts
15. Pasta
16. Peanut Butter
17. Rice, Quinoa
18. Shelf-stable and Powdered Milk
19. Soup, Stew and Chili
20. Whole Grain Cereal

Also noted in the article are the following: When purchasing items for a food bank, avoid junk food, items with glass or cellophane packaging, which can be broken in transit, or things that need can openers or special equipment. Pop-top cans are a plus.

Mindful giving is donating with dignity

When you set your energy and intent to give with love and generosity of spirit, you are donating with dignity. Donating food? Buy a few items from the list above. Giving clothing or other items to resale shops or homeless shelters, check for holes and tears. If you don’t want to wear it or use it, ask yourself, is it something that can be worn or used or is it simply garbage?

There are plenty of places that repurpose clothing and other items and give to others in the process. Did you know that (as of the original writing of this blog) the retailer H&M offers % off coupons for every bag of clothing you bring in? If it can be used, they donate it. If it can’t, they repurpose it.

See those who don’t have as much as you as human beings and give from a space of offering a hand up and not the space of getting rid of. Notice the difference there? If you’ve ever read the Humans of New York you know the impact of hearing people’s stories. I encourage you to take a moment to really “see” those who are not in the same place as many of you.

Keep the human spirit at the forefront of your mind as you choose what and how you wish to give. If you have enough and you are able to donate food and or clothing, you are privileged enough to do so. Let’s open our hearts and stay mindful of those we are giving to. ~Shine Your Light Debbie

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