When I was a boy, I witnessed my mother give the little we had to a variety of charities, especially around the holidays. Whether it was spare change in the car or canned food for the food drives at school, my mother instilled in us at a young age the importance of giving back and that a little can go a long way. When I started Living Philanthropic in April of 2010, I incorporated these ideals, to give no matter how small the amount and to give everyday. They coined a phrase for what I do, what many of us do, it’s called micro-philanthropy or micro-giving. I don’t mind the phrase as long as they respect the combined life-changing power we have as micro-philanthropists and as Latinos.
What I find most inspiring is that despite the higher poverty rates in Latino households, over 53% of Latino households give to charitable organizations. This is what I was witness to as a child and I feel it is important for our children to learn the value of saving money as well as giving back. That is why this holiday, I encourage everyone to pledge to put the “giving” back into Thanksgiving. With the frenzy of Black Friday deals, Super Saturdays, Cyber Mondays, let’s take a moment to acknowledge what it’s important in life: food, shelter, and family. So, instead of waiting in a Black Friday line for 6 hours, considered taking your family and volunteering 2 hours at soup kitchen or food pantry. Instead of spending that $200 on a Flat Screen TV on Cyber Monday, make it a Cyber Giving Monday and donate $20 to the Hispanic College Fund, and show your children you are investing in their future and the future of their generation.
To give is to receive and the more you make giving a part of your life and your family’s life, you will begin to notice the rewarding fulfillment that your contributions are making a difference. I realized this fact last Christmas when I went to Chiapas, Mexico to build a junior high school with Foundation Escalera. The children of this village were in need of a proper school to continue their education. This village was investing in their children’s future by recruiting better teachers and I was proud to be able to make my contribution by getting this school built. This Christmas I am going to build yet another school in Chiapas, in hopes that my investment in their future will help them combat poverty with better education.
I wish you and your families a wonderful and blessed holiday.
Carlo Lorenzo Garcia is an actor/philanthropist and founder of LivingPhilanthropic.com, he lives in Chicago and works for Ticketweb, an online ticketing company.