December 12, 2012 - It's the Christmas season and charity is on my mind.
Since I started working for the Oxford Leader back in May 1999, I've always done what I can to promote and support local charitable organizations.
My two favorites are Oxford-Orion FISH and the K-9 Stray Rescue League.
To me, they exemplify real charity.
Both groups help those who cannot help themselves. Both use just about every penny they take in to improve the lives of those who need it most.
Both are run entirely by dedicated volunteers fueled by an intense desire to show compassion for others whether they walk on two or four legs.
Nobody gets a big salary.
Neither of them have fancy offices.
They don't distribute expensive, glossy brochures trumpeting all the good work they do. They don't need to because the evidence and importance of what they do is all around us every day.
That's why I don't believe in donating to national charities or fashionable global causes. In many cases, much of the money people contribute to them goes for salaries, administration, prime real estate and marketing.
That's not charity. That's a business. That's a scam.
To me, the likelihood of donated dollars reaching those who truly need them decreases as the size of the organization increases.
I'd rather keep my dollars local because I can see where each and every cent is going. That's true accountability.
That being said, not every local cause is equal in my eyes. Some are definitely more deserving and more worthwhile than others.
Frankly, I wish there were private individuals, businesses and large corporations out there writing $10,000 and $50,000 checks to genuine local charities instead of some of the silly, frivolous things I see masquerading as community causes.
I can only imagine how many stray dogs $10,000 could keep warm and well-fed until adoptive homes are found.
I can only imagine how many struggling families $50,000 could feed for another month. Or pay the rent. Or keep the heat on during those cold winter months.
But I guess those local causes aren't sexy enough to merit such large donations. There's not enough media-hype surrounding them to make a contribution worthwhile.
I guess for some, particularly corporations, donations only count when you can display them on oversized checks and present them in front of cheering crowds. How sad.
While it's true that we're all free to give the money we earn to whatever causes or groups we see fit, I just wish more folks – especially those with considerable resources at their disposal – had their priorities in order.
To me, the best way to really help your community and make a difference in others' lives is to offer a helping hand to your less fortunate neighbors and provide loving homes to furry creatures who have been abandoned, abused and neglected.
Imagine what kind of a community we could have if we all did such things. Imagine what kind of world we could have if everyone in every community did such things.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.