Philanthropy is a big word that may, at times, be intimidating. After all, we have all read and learned about the ultra-wealthy individuals and families who have established foundations that donate millions of dollars every year for philanthropic causes.
In these terms, it is very easy for most of us to dismiss philanthropy as something that doesn’t apply to us or something that we aspire to participate in when we are older and have more financial means. The reality is there are very few of us who can make a large impact with our dollars alone. For this reason, I want to focus on the philanthropy that requires little or no wealth; the type of philanthropy in which everyone can engage.
Philanthropy is defined as “goodwill to fellow members of the human race” or “an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes.” With this definition in mind, it is easy to see opportunities for philanthropic acts all around us.
In fact, some of the brightest examples of philanthropy are taking place every day by the youngest members of our community; our students. When reading a recent edition of the Fremont Public Schools “TIGERbytes” newsletter, I was able to learn about students at Grant Elementary making tie-knot blankets and donating them to Low Income Ministry.
Students from the Young Adult Program volunteered at the Salvation Army during the holidays.
National Honor Society members volunteered by unloading food at the Low Income Ministry.
Milliken Park second graders collected change to donate to the Salvation Army Adopt-a-Family program.
Members of the Multi-Cultural Club rang bells and held a cold weather blanket drive for Salvation Army.
The Fremont Middle School Student Council held fundraisers to make a donation to United Way.
Bell Field Elementary students, along with those from Fremont High School and Fremont Middle School held a paper product drive for Care Corps.
The Fremont High School and Fremont Middle School compete each year during the pre-holiday season to see who can collect the most canned food for Low Income Ministry.
The Clarmar “Kids for Kids” program collected new toys for donation at the Salvation Army Joy Shoppe.
These are just a few activities happening throughout the Fremont Public Schools. Obviously, similar shining examples are taking place every day at Archbishop Bergan, Trinity Lutheran School and Midland University.
What does this mean?
It means that each of us has the ability to be a philanthropist. It means that we should not be intimidated by those who are able to make large monetary donations. While financial contributions are a necessity, they are not the only way to make an impact.
The Fremont Area Philanthropy Group, of which I am a member, wishes to remind everyone that philanthropy is a way of thinking and acting. The importance is not how one acts but rather that one does act.
Ronda Niehaus, vice president and trust officer at First State Bank & Trust Co., is a member of the Fremont Area Philanthropy Group. This article is a series written by members of the group who are dedicated to promoting charitable giving for the benefit of our community.