The Dude Society

An Online Magazine for Guys.

The Importance Of Donating To Charity And Helping People

Although I’ve been blogging in different capacities since 1999, I’ve never consumed as much blog content as I do now.

Since our site is about fashion, grooming, dating, travel, and general lifestyle topics… a lot of these activities center around spending money one way or another.

Many fashion and style blogs, I now keep close track of, focus very intently on things you should buy. In many cases, these items are arguably a ridiculous waste of money. A $17,000 Chanel bicycle for example.

I will confess, I once dated someone who worked at Chanel HQ, and she confirmed my suspicion that said bicycle was just a regular bicycle with some Chanel logos slapped on it… yet they were back-ordered. The same could be said of many men’s products and accessories.

As someone who has paid ridiculous prices for material items, I am not saying you shouldn’t do so if it makes you happy. You only live once, so if you have the means, splurging on yourself is ok with me.

What I am asking, is to please keep it in perspective. You’re “obsessed” with the latest designer item… while many people are starving or struggling to support their families. In many cases, these are people you see every day.

While some people make it a habit to donate money to charity around Christmas, many others never do it at all.

Things that stick with you…

While I am not really religious, when I was a child, I used to volunteer with my father in the homeless program at St. Barts in New York City. I admit my memory is fuzzy because I was very young. I do, however, distinctly remember helping to setup cots and serve hot coffee to people coming in out of the cold.

Not everyone has a parents who set this example so early on, but the message certainly has stuck with me and I’m glad my Dad brought me along.

A more recent story

After my father passed away in 2006, I went uptown by my father’s apartment, to look for a specific man. For many years, there was a man who would stand on the corner by my father’s apartment. I don’t know exactly how long he’s been there, but I am 29 now, and I remember seeing him when I was a child.

Lucily, I arrived to find him in his usual spot. I walked up to this man, and in a friendly voice, asked if he remembered me. I had not lived in NYC for quite a few years, so I wasn’t sure he would. He responded “of course.”

I told him about my father’s passing. He grabbed my hand, and expressed how important fathers are. I gave him $100 and wished him well, which was my original goal.

I wanted to find this man specifically, because my Dad used to give him change fairly regularly… and I knew that stream of change would not be coming any longer. Obviously, $100 is not a life-changing sum of money, but I wanted to show him that I was thinking of him.

What can you do?

There are many ways you can help, here are a few:

Volunteer

This is a good and bad thing, but it can be surprisingly difficult to volunteer. Many organizations are at capacity, or accept only groups of volunteers as opposed to individuals. I’m encouraged by the fact that so many people do, in fact, volunteer. That said, sites like VolunteerMatch can help you find good opportunities in your area.

Donate Money

Find a charity that deals with an issue you care about, and give money to them. If it’s a place you’re unfamiliar with, take a few minutes to research and make sure they’re legit.

Speaking for myself, homelessness is an issue I care about, so I’ve donated to both the Coalition for the Homeless and The Bowery Mission, here in NYC.

Do good deeds

Many people don’t like handing out money to persons on the street, for fear they might blow it on booze. It sounds cliche, but it’s true.

A guy once asked me for food money, right outside a deli, on my way to the office. I responded by offering to buy him whatever he wanted to eat. His response was “Ahhh, f*ck man, nevermind.” So, you can’t win them all.

Contrary to that story, there is a 24 hour deli by my apartment, and on countless occasions I have bought sandwiches and drinks for people who are down on their luck.

One “regular” guy who I would often see, wore Nike sneakers on his feet that were beat to hell and coming apart. So, I asked him what size he was, told him to be there at the same time tomorrow, and I ordered him a pair of replacement Nike’s from Zappos.

Those are just a couple examples… but we should all find our own ways to help people out, in between our “obsessing” and shopping sprees.

If there is a personal story you’d like to share, please do so in the comment area.

About the author

Jamie is the Founder of The Dude Society and a New York City based web designer & developer. He really likes telling people how to think, act, and dress.

All articles by Jamie »

5 responses to “The Importance Of Donating To Charity And Helping People”

  1. Robert Rosenthal says:

    Robert here from VolunteerMatch. Nice work, Jamie. Did I happen to mention that more than 80% of our users are female? That means odds are awesome dudes will meet women while they’re giving back. Now that’s making a difference! (Twitter: @VolmatchRobert)

  2. krs8 says:

    I really appreciate you posting this and the examples you gave of how you've helped people down on their luck. It's hard to know how to respond to people asking for a buck on the street – giving to charity is one thing but when there's someone right in front of you, it's hard to know what to do. Thanks for sharing this – it's inspirational in a down to earth way.

  3. DaveJ says:

    I would like to mention a particularly easy and fun charity that helps people all over the world. Kiva.org. Try it, you'll like it.

    Given that, I try to always have some singles on my when I am walking about town. I give them out fairly easily. It's worth the boost in self esteem (for me) to do that. Good article.

    • Jamie says:

      Yeah, Kiva is cool! I saw a story about it when it first launched. Kiva isn’t exactly a charity, since the money gets paid back… unless they’ve changed their model?

  4. Katie Hoffman says:

    I love this post! Moving to NYC has taught me so much about all that I have and how many people out there actually need help. True, there are some out there who just want booze and all that. but you are so right, many are just hungry and need help. Thank you so much for sharing! I'm glad to know there are others out there giving back :)

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