Last week, I attended the Manual High School Christmas Spectacular, and it certainly was. Spectacular, I mean! The choirs, the band, the poetry recitation, the dramatic performances, the costumes, and the set design were all wonderfully festive and well done. But the community engagement and philanthropic spirit were my favorite part! The ongoing “Our Children, Our City” series in the Indy Star has put a spotlight on this near southside school, and the resulting positive energy reached a holiday frenzy last Tuesday night. (Follow this link for the Indy Star article: http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=201012120376)
I arrived at the end of the evening’s first performance, and waited in a very crowded hallway as the audience poured out of the auditorium. Hundreds of warmly bundled families were eagerly gathered to secure their seats for the encore performance. The mood was celebratory and friends greeted one another across the foyer, shouting well wishes. I happened to station myself right next to the Donation table. (Though as a professional fundraiser, this was merely coincidence, as the table was really next to the Ladies Room…)
As the crowd streamed past the homemade donation box covered in wrapping paper, it seemed that everyone dropped a folded bill into it. Young, old, affluent, working class-everyone. It was beautiful. I just finished a Masters degree in Philanthropic Studies, and now I can safely say that I chose that degree because philanthropic action makes me all happy and weepy inside. (I got the Masters in Public Affairs so that I could get a job.)
Certainly, philanthropic action extends far beyond cash gifts. But as the year comes to a close, I urge you to make a generous charitable contribution to one of the hundreds of youth-serving nonprofits in Indianapolis. These kids are amazing and they need your support. And after you’ve made your gift of treasure, make it your new year’s resolution to give more of your time and talent. I promise, you’ll feel all happy and weepy inside, too!