This Is Giving

Posted by Dani on January 12, 2013

How far would you go to help a needy family?

It’s been heartening in recent years to read about the new trend in super rich giving. Over 92 of the wealthiest individuals and families in America have taken the Giving Pledge, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates’ initiative to encourage the rich to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Warren Buffet himself has promised to give away 99% of his wealth. Now, when your net worth is $64 billion, even 1% is a nice chunk of change. But what about people like you and me?

California law professor Tony Tolbert recently turned over the keys to his LA home to Felicia Dukes and her 4 children who had been living in a homeless shelter. He moved in with his mother and gave them the use of his home, rent-free, for 1 year. Fully furnished. Free. No strings attached. He didn’t know Felicia personally. In fact, it’s the second time he’s done this type of thing. Why does he do it? Because he can.

Tony Tolbert made a big difference in one family’s life. And really, what was the cost to him in the long run? A year of disruption, which in the big picture of life won’t really matter all that much. Moving out of the house for a period of time is something I wouldn’t think twice about if I had a big renovation happening, for example. But to do it for someone who needed a home? It’s never even occurred to me. To be honest, just the thought of a stranger using my home and my things makes me really uncomfortable. Yet they’re just things, and the wiser part of me knows they won’t really matter much when it’s all said and done.

It’s always been easy to make my donations to charity and feel I’m doing what I can. What more can a regular person do, right? But Tony showed that one person is able to make a big impact. This opens up the possibility that maybe there is a lot more that I can do to give back than I ever imagined. Scary idea!

I’m not sure how many people would do something as big as what Tony Tolbert did. But he’s given us a lot to think about.


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