Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Sharing the Wealth

I just love Oprah -- I don't always get to watch her show, but from time to time I TiVo it, if I see a topic that looks interesting. I enjoy the fact, that from what I have seen, mostly her show is about real people -- yes, she has celebrities on her show, publicizing their latest book or movie, but even then, she talks to them more about their real lives -- they always seem more down-to-earth than on other talk shows. Also, I love that her show is often about giving things to people in need. I can't tell you how many times I have watched Ellen's show and seen her give this lovely, but ridiculously expensive pram away to some expectant celebrity -- someone that could certainly afford to buy their own baby supplies... Not that other shows don't give things away, or do charitable acts, but not like Oprah!

Sometime this past week, I taped an episode of Oprah that in the tv guide was listed as being about "a man who walked away from millions, and getting more for your money." Well, I've never been offered millions that I could walk away from, but I certainly can always learn more about getting more for my money, so I taped it. After watching it tonight, I just found it so inspiring, I have to share it with anyone who will listen!

There were 3 individuals on, each sharing their own inspiration story. The first woman was talking about how she had been looking for a "calling", something that she could do to help others, and she knew that it had to be involving children. She started by just going to shelters and reading to kids, and as she was working at the time, she would go and read at night, after work. Well, after she was done reading, the workers at the shelter would say to the kids, "ok, time for bed" and the kids would just go to bed in the clothes they were wearing. This woman, Genevieve Piturro, thought this was strange and hadn't thought about the kids not owning pajamas. The next time she went to the shelter, she brought 12 new pairs of pajamas, one for each of the children, and her idea just sparked from there. In the last 5 years, Genevieve and her Pajama Program have gathered over 80,000 pairs of pj's for kids in need! And in preparation for this show (which apparently first aired back in April - how behind the times am I?) Oprah's staff called the audience and asked them to bring as many pj's as they could -- all new -- but they could only BUY 1 pair. One woman got 10,000 pairs of pj's donated by BJ's Wholesale Club! All in all, the audience brought this woman over 32,000 pairs of pajamas! Ths story in particular really touched me, because the woman was talking about something that so many of us take for granted -- a warm pair of pajamas, a bedtime story for a child, and a parent to tuck that child into bed. Unfortunately, so many children are not blessed with all of these things. My own daughter received 5 new pairs of pajamas for Christmas this year, and I saved the Oprah show to share with her, and after watching it, together we will go online either to the Pajama Program website or to Oprah's website, so that we can donate to this worthy cause.
Another one of the stories was about the man who walked away from millions -- a great job with Microsoft -- after taking a trip to Nepal and seeing the horrendous conditions of the schools there. In particular, he saw that one school only had about 20 books which were all cast-off books of people backpacking through -- nothing appropriate for a child. He promised to come back with books, and he kept his promise -- coming back with 3,000 books. And from that little promise, he decided to quit his job and jump fully into this literacy project that he started. Now his non-profit organization, "Room to Read" has distributed nearly 3,000,000 children's books, constructed 287 schools, and established 3,600 libraries! This is another amazing story that I want to share with my daughter, and together we can do our part to help with this amazing project! Again, something most of us take for granted -- we are tripping over books in our house, and we can easily go up the road to the library to take more out, any time we desire. Not to mention the fact that our daughter is fortunate enough to attend a beautiful new school that not only has a library, but computers that are available for her to learn on as well.
Oh! The "getting more for your money" story was about a woman who started a food pantry in her community, simply by getting her friends, neighbors, and church parishioners to collect coupons! She saves an amazing amount of money and has even persuaded her church to donate a building to her for a community center!
I think one of the most important jobs that a parent has is to teach your child empathy, compassion, and charity. My husband and I are always trying to instill in our girl an understanding of how blessed she is and that not all children are so fortunate. Anything that she and we, can do to help make life a little easier for another child -- that is an amazing gift that we can give -- not just to the person in need, but also to ourselves and to our children!


Christine said...

How wonderful! I saw the book guy on there 6 months ago. He was awesome. I didn't see the rest of the people though. I'll have to check out the website!

Christine said...

And I just realized my girl got an extra (new) bathrobe for Christmas. I think I'll pop it in the mail for those pj people!

Deanna said...

Good for you! I thought it was such a great, yet simple idea to really add something nice to someone's life!

Teamcarbone said...

We dropped off a tone of all my old college books to the library a few weeks age. Hubby passed the donation off as "books" and the librarians didn't even look at them but thanked us profusely. Anyways it got me thinking there must be an organization that would take outdated college books and take them to poor countries, such as the guy on Oprah.

Anyways it's great that you're showing your girls the meaning of "sharing the wealth"

Christine said...

It's kind of like cash subsidy when you gave that child a bed-who would think someone didn't have A BED!!!

Deanna said...

Yes, that's a great idea about donating books to a literacy program (not that libraries aren't worthy causes...).

I know -- it did make me think of our cash subsidy program at work -- and it wasn't just 1 bed -- I mean that first one was our initial shock that that was a need, but we have done SO many beds -- I have a deal worked out with a local furniture company so that we get a good price because we buy so many! I try to tell my girl about that program so that she gets an idea about how things are for other people.