We all know money makes the world go ‘round’ but the internet has definitely made it spin faster. After the election, I thought the constant barrage of fundraising pleas from candidates and special interest groups would slow to a trickle. No such luck. It is the norm that newly elected members of Congress are expected to spend an average of 4 hours a day on fundraising. Those desperate emails seem to work since online giving has increased close to 20% over the last two years. That means it has become more important than ever to draw the line between donating to help win a political/ideological battle and what constitutes actual charity/philanthropy. When it comes to the latter, the good news is that Millennials are the most charitable demographic given their numbers. Comprising 25.9% of the population, 40% of them are enrolled in a monthly giving plan and 84% of them give to a charity. Even better, 64% of them do volunteer work and it looks like the Gen Z’ers are even active.
If you’ve followed Chris Smith’s coverage of 9 year old Lexi Lawson and her Mom then you know how amazing Lexi is. Her dad, Adam Lawson, died suddenly early last year and life has been tough since for the mother/daughter as they have struggled through the economic impacts of the pandemic. But that didn’t stop Lexi from wanting to continue her yearly fund-raising efforts for one cause or another. This year she made and sold cookies and dog biscuits to raise money for Elisha’s Pantry. They really could have used the money but Lexi felt it important to gift it to the pantry as her Mom has had to go there for food at times herself. A story like that had people wondering how to help the mother/daughter team and so a crowdfunding request led to setting up an account for them at: gofundme.com/f/gmmr3-adam-lawson-memorial-and-family-fund.
At Rotary, apart from our individual scholarship program, we tend to interface with non-profit and service agencies, but these individual efforts are worthy. Oscar Villalobos is a remarkable young man I got to know well through the 10,000 Degrees mentoring program when he was a H.S. junior. His has been an arduous journey but he continues to inspire and impress me. Despite his many challenges, by the end of this year he will graduate from UC-Riverside as the first person in his family to attend college. Service to others is something he is already doing. He started a GoFund me page for a well-loved neighbor, Robert Semmons. Robert is a disabled veteran and on Feb 24th, he was evicted from his home of 31 years. Robert lives on his SS disability which is not enough to enable him to remain in Santa Rosa. His friends and neighbors will miss him but under Oscar’s leadership, they are hoping to raise $5,000 to help him relocate to Arizona where his monthly checks will go a lot further. It can be found at https://gofund.me/4a0b4f66. This is real charity in action and it provides no small amount of hope that the spirit of giving is alive and well in the hearts of our children and grandchildren. Next issue, watch out for news about the Crab Feed fundraising alternative for your Valley of the Moon Rotary.