First steps towards a life of giving back

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah gestures during the announcement of the U.S. Global Development Lab to help end extreme poverty by 2030, in New York April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Here is some good news to hold onto this holiday season: Americans are giving more than ever.

Last year, Americans gave a total of $410 billion to worthy causes, according to Giving USA, surpassing $400 billion for the first time ever. And this year’s Giving Tuesday, a charity promotion on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is seeing pledges already totaling more than $380 million on just that one day, up 27 percent from the year before, according to a survey of major giving portals like Facebook, PayPal and Blackbaud.

Who is helping steer the nation’s charitable dollars, and how did they get there? For the latest in Reuters’ First Jobs series, we talked to a few titans of philanthropy about their first steps towards a life of giving back.

Dr. Rajiv Shah

President, The Rockefeller Foundation

First job: Caddie

I grew up in suburban Detroit, and my first job was as a caddie at the Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I think I was 15, because I remember I couldn’t drive there on my own yet.

We got paid per bag, per round, plus a tip. My biggest payday was for doing two rounds in a day, both of which involved two bags, so I made $120. I was so excited that when I got home I showed my mom the burn marks on my shoulders, and slapped the cash down on the kitchen counter. I thought I was on top of the world.

My most memorable round was with a local doctor. I had been born with a birth defect of two fingers being stuck together. By chance, I caddied for the doctor who had done the separation procedure, and he recognized his own work when he saw my hand. He made me feel very special.

From that job, I learned that when you do something, give it absolutely everything you’ve got. Show up early, work twice as hard, stay late. I still remember how excited I was to get there early and be one of the first people on the course. A first job like that can shape your mindset about what success looks like. And as a son of an immigrant growing up in Detroit, it was my first time being exposed to a world like that.

Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann

CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

First job: Pharmacy assistant

When I was a kid, our family moved to Reno so my dad and his business partner could open a family-run pharmacy. I grew up about a mile away from Keystone Pharmacy, which my father ran for many years. Everyone in Reno knew Frank.

He put up with me trailing him around the pharmacy for most of my childhood. Eventually, I became a bookkeeper for the business. My brothers, meanwhile, used to drive around little yellow trucks to make deliveries.

A lot of people think Reno is a strange place to live and work, and I’ve heard every Reno joke there is. But it was actually a wonderful place to grow up, right by the Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s my happy place.

Gerun Riley

President, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation

First job: Pizza delivery

My first unpaid job was actually helping my family build our house in Connecticut. At a very early age, I was working nights and weekends, building an addition for our growing family. In the third grade for Show & Tell, I told all my classmates about how to hang drywall.

My first paid job, though, was delivering pizza while I went to university at Bowdoin College in Maine. It required someone who was okay with not having a social life on Friday or Saturday nights, so that was me. I got paid $6 an hour, and the expectation was that there would be tips as well – but since I was mostly delivering to other college students, there wasn’t a lot of that.

I remember I had to drive a bronze Toyota van that spun out a lot and beeped when you backed up. Mostly I delivered to frat houses, so that job forced me to get over my own embarrassment about driving a tacky van and wearing a hokey uniform and doing my job while other people were having fun.

It also taught me to manage my time. I was in neuroscience, and a college athlete, and working 35 hours a week so I could afford clothes and food and books. I had no choice but to be very efficient and thoughtful about how I spent my days.

(Editing by Beth Pinsker and Bernadette Baum)

Five ways to hard-wire children for a lifetime of giving

Children receive toys at a refugee shelter run by German charity organisation Arbeiter Samariter Bund ASB in Berlin, Germany,

By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK(Reuters) – (The writer is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)

As any parent knows, most children seem to be wired for one thing: Getting, getting, getting.

Then there are kids like Kai Martin.

The 9-year-old Arizonan is counting down to the holidays with a special kind of Advent calendar: Every day in December he is putting a food item in a box, which will be delivered to a local shelter at Christmas.

Some of that generous nature comes from Kai himself. But he is also being hard-wired for giving by his mom, Shannon Bodnar. Just as her own parents inspired her to give – taking her along on trips to give holiday toys to families in need, when she was just 7 – she is now coding the philanthropic instinct into her own child’s brain.

“He has always been a philanthropic kid,” said Bodnar, a technology marketer in Chandler, Arizona. “I am excited to see what kind of charitable adult he will become.”

Fostering children’s charitable impulses helps boost their wellness and self-esteem by showing them they can make a difference in someone’s life, according to Carol Weisman, author of “Raising Charitable Children.” It also helps them develop leadership skills, which are likely to serve them well in their personal and professional lives, Weisman said.

Researchers say that by making philanthropy a habit early in life, while the brain is still developing, we can establish neural pathways that persist into adulthood.

“The path to doing this is to help them have experiences of generosity that they internalize as lasting changes in their brains,” said Dr. Rick Hanson, a psychologist and author of the book “Hardwiring Happiness.”

That means thinking about it, talking about it and repeating it, so that a generous instinct becomes second nature. Like a finicky plant, it needs the right conditions to thrive.

That is where parents come in: Kids whose parents discuss giving with them are 20 percent more likely to give themselves, according to one study by the University of Indiana’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Parents certainly seem to be doing our part: 87 percent of kids report that their parents encouraged them to give away toys or clothes, according to the 2016 Parents, Kids & Money survey by Baltimore-based money managers T. Rowe Price. And 69 percent were encouraged to give cash to charity, as well.

But, as any parent also knows, getting kids to do as they are told is akin to pushing a recalcitrant donkey. Here is some advice to successfully plant seeds of philanthropic behavior:

1. Use the holidays as a teachable moment.

The end of the year is when families do much of their annual giving. “Tell kids how much money you have to give away, and then discuss what causes are important to you as a family,” said Weisman. “If the children are very small, maybe even use Monopoly money.”

2. Make sure they see family giving.

These days, much of your charity may be done through credit-card donations or automatic withdrawals, which your kids might not witness. Rectify that by involving them in the process and having them click on that donation button themselves, advises Weisman.

3. Make a mindfulness practice out of it.

If your child gives a buck to a homeless person and then immediately forgets about it, you probably have not fostered any long-lasting habit. So have your child think not only about what good that dollar will do, but how the act of giving made them feel. “Neurologically, this simple practice – taking only half a dozen seconds or longer – will increase the encoding of generosity,” said Hanson.

4. Start with giving time.

Obviously young children do not have much money of their own, so begin cultivating the charitable impulse by having children give of their time.

Shannon Bodnar sits down every year and talks with son Kai about which causes they feel strongly about, so they can start allocating their volunteer time. “Then you can start talking about giving money as well – such as fundraising or donating a portion of their allowance,” Bodnar said.

5. Go beyond the holidays.

While Bodnar may have provided the initial spark for giving, Kai has taken it to bonfire levels – and not just at Christmas time, either.

His birthday is in the spring, and he has refused gifts for the last four years, instead asking people to donate to the local leukemia and lymphoma society. Using the charitable fundraising site Crowdrise, he has amassed a total of $6,700.

(Editing by Beth Pinsker and Andrew Hay)

Giving Or Getting? Do These Kids Have the Answer?

In Atlanta, 83% of the children that go to the boys and girls club come from low income families. Many of these children live where most homes cannot even afford a Christmas tree. Many of these kids were asked one of the most difficult questions when UPtv decided to talk to them about their Christmas wishes.

As each child spoke of the thing they wanted the most, their eyes sparkled with the magic that children feel this time of year. They described the dream of that most special gift that they just might, despite all odds, receive.

There were many children that UPtv spoke to. Beautiful kids such as Destiny, Miracle, Austin and Brooke. Each made their wish. For example:a computer, a barbie doll house, an Xbox system. And then they were asked about their families. What would their Mom like as a present? Or their Dad? Or the whole family? A new television, a ring for my Mom, a watch for my Dad, a christmas tree and a necklace were some of the wonderful presents these children imagined.

Two days later UPtv sat these children down again and set before them the gift they had wanted so badly. They also presented the gift that they would want to give to their family, Mom or Dad. As their eyes grew wide, they were offered the chance to take home one of the gifts. Either the one for themselves or the one for their parent or family.

Their young faces told the story of how very difficult this choice was. Yet within mere moments, without hesitation, they each picked the gift that they would love to give. When asked why they picked to give a present instead of get one, Miracle told UPtv. “If I get a laptop, then my mom will lose something. She’s my Mom and she’s special!” In each case, the children picked a gift for giving saying that toys are not important, but making those they love happy, giving back to them for all they have done, means the most of all.

After unselfishly giving up their gifts, UPtv decided to give up a few too and happily gave the children the present that was intended for them as well. The thankfulness, the joy and the smiles of these wonderful kids is what makes the magic of Christmastime.

In a world so full of negativity and injustice. At a time where we despair over the future. It is the children who see our sacrifice and know…truly, how to give.

You can see for yourself this wonderful presentation on UPtv: “The Other Christmas Gift,” by watching the video below:

Homeless Donor Inspires North Carolina Church

A homeless man who left an 18 cent donation to a North Carolina church along with a message that melted the hearts of all who read it is asking to remain anonymous despite a media campaign to identify him.

The note read: “Please don’t be mad. I don’t have much. I’m Homeless. God Bless.”

One of the organizers of the Muffin Ministry of First United Methodist Church of Charllotte said that the man told her he wants to stay behind the scenes.

“He’s a very humble person he doesn’t want to be noticed or recognized,” Ann Huskey said in an exclusive interview with People.

The pastor said that he met with the man and said that many church members made offers of support.

“I said, ‘There are people that are willing to help you financially. They are concerned about you,’ ” Pastor Patrick Hamrick said.

The man rejected the offers, saying the gift was between him and God.  The pastor hopes that the man will accept the invitation for a job interview offered by a local businessman.

Christmas Community Outreach 2014

Some things are taught in a school and some things are taught within an experience. On December 13th, 2014, on a street called Grace, it wasn’t a head full of knowledge that mattered the most; it was a heart full of love that made the difference for over 400 people who live in the small and somewhat forgotten towns that surround Morningside village.

Pastors Jim and Lori Bakker rallied their entire staff and many volunteers to remember and SHOW that Christmas is one of the greatest opportunities to share the love of JESUS and His message of HOPE .

The building was packed with families who desperately needed help; many who were jobless and single moms who were struggling with two jobs to support their families.  The stories were truly heartbreaking!  Everyone here at the Jim Bakker Show and Morningside Church became unified to fulfill the mission of the gospel and spread with all of our hearts; hope, joy, love, and peace.

From the very start, inspiring music from Kevin Shorey, Caleb Gordon, Harmony Hayes, Kimberly Patrick and Kristi Blankenship literally charged the atmosphere with hope and fellowship. A huge breakfast buffet was served where everyone in the building was able to eat until they were full.

On behalf of Morningside and the generosity of our partners, Pastor Jim and his entire family gave away gifts in abundance featuring a flat screen color TV, a Wii gaming system, an inflatable kayak, camping tents, jewelry, bikes and toys of all kinds.  The faces of those children and families are forever in our hearts.  Their smiles completely lit up Morningside!

Excitement mounted as special guests were brought to the stage.  First came Frosty the snowman, and when Santa came out children and adults broke into a rousing applause, but the guest that amazed the crowd was the star of the movie “Frozen”; Elsa. The kids rushed the stage and everyone sang and danced to the hit song from the movie “LET IT GO “. People were lost in a moment of joyful Christmas spirit!

Among the gifts here at Morningside was a photo booth and over 100 families got in line to get a family portrait to take home, compliments of the ministry. The children also got pictures with Frosty and Santa and of course Elsa. These are memories that will stay with these beautiful children and we  wanted them to have that captured moment to remember.

It is in a spirit of love that people best hear the gospel message.  Pastor Keven Shorey preached a beautiful and hopeful message of Jesus’s power to save.  Heaven rejoiced as hundreds prayed a salvation prayer with tears rolling down their faces.  And all of us felt the Spirit of the Lord embrace us all.

Towards the end of this remarkable afternoon, Pastor Jim Bakker opened up a room filled with every kind of gift you can imagine!  There were tables full of them and every person was invited to shop. Right here at Morningside we had our own Black Friday, except it was Saturday and everything was free!  Finally, as these wonderful families were leaving for their homes, every person was sent home with a grocery bag full of food all made possible by remarkable people giving to this ministry!

I wish you could have seen their faces and heard their stories!  I also wish that you too could have experienced the atmosphere!  It was like riding a hurricane of crazy cool, loving Jesus, giving and loving emotion!

God so Loved He gave His only Son- Every time we give…every time we share and love another person… its Christmas!

Lloyd Ziegler


A Christmas to Remember

Christmas is such a special time of year, isn’t it?

While most of the world associates Christmas with the thrill of giving and receiving gifts, eating wonderful foods that we only indulge in once a year, and creating special memories with our loved ones, Christians go just a little deeper into the real reason for the season!

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born to take away our sin so that we can spend eternity in heaven!   That’s a gift above and beyond anything we can think or imagine to give one another!

That precious gift to us from our Heavenly Father is why we celebrate Christmas!

This year, I encourage you to take every opportunity to tell someone about this wonderful Savior of ours, Jesus!  Smile and warmly tell everyone you see ‘Merry Christmas!’  Let Christ shine through you.  Show the world the JOY of Christmas!

You are probably already planning what to get your loved ones and friends.  How many of us really remember the gifts we get at Christmas?

I’m glad gift-giving is easy for Lori and me because we have decided to give gifts that really say, “I love you.”  Lori loves to create beautiful gift baskets with all of Seychelle’s wonderful products, and our friends and family love getting them!  It’s the perfect way to say “I love you” and mean it!

Let’s make this a Christmas to remember by focusing our giving on important things, and not on frivolous things that will soon be forgotten!

Lori and I along with the entire Morningside Family want you to know how much we truly do love and appreciate you!  Your support encourages and sustains us!  God Bless you! We hope you are surrounded by loved ones and joy this whole holiday season!

We thank God for you each and every day!