Reading this? You’re probably rich

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 25, 2010

I was struck this week by a story on the Web site about giving.

Three graduate students – none of whom earn more than $20,000 per year and all of whom consider themselves well-off when compared with the vast majority of the people in the world – are giving away a chunk of their current earnings.

Nick Beckstead, Mark Lee and Tim Campbell, all in their mid-20s, are among a group of Rutgers University students who are launching the first U.S. chapter of Giving What We Can, a U.K.-based international charity movement dedicated to eliminating poverty around the world. The initiative was started by Toby Ord, an ethics researcher at Oxford University.

Participants pledge to give at least 10 percent of their incomes to wherever they think it will do the most to relieve suffering in the developing world.

“Even people without a lot of material wealth can make a huge impact on those less fortunate, if they give to the right places,” Mark Lee is quoted as saying.

His friend Nick Beckstead added, “If everyone who considered his income ‘ordinary’ decided not to give, many of the most important causes could go unfunded. Moreover, people of even modest income can make a significant difference in the lives of large numbers of people if they give a portion of their income to the right charities.”

They are good reminders in this season of giving of the many worthy causes in the greater world and in our own little world. So while you’re still feeling generous, get out the checkbook and support a worthy cause while there’s still time to get credit on this year’s taxes.

Here are a few local ones:

• Habitat for Humanity of Covington County, P.O. Box 1034, Andalusia, AL 36420.

• If you walked past the Salvation Army bell ringers, it’s not to late to support the cause. Money raised locally will be used for local people. Contributions can be mailed to Salvation Army for the Red Kettle campaign of Covington County and mailed c/o James and James Attorneys, P.O. Box 1061, Andalusia, AL 36420.

• Crossover Ministry, the eight-month addiction recovery program in Opp serving all of Covington County. Contributions can be mailed to 508 Highway 52 East Opp, Alabama 36467.

• There’s never been a time when I had nothing to eat, but I have stood in line after a natural disaster to get a hot meal from the American Red Cross when the power was off and a hot meal was a luxury. If a meal meant that much to me, I can’t imagine how appreciative the people who receive help with their utility bills through Project Share or immediate assistance after a fire must be. Covington County Chapter of the American Red Cross, 234 Hillcrest Drive in Andalusia, AL, 36420.

• The Lower Alabama Arts Council 513-A East Three Notch Street, Andalusia, Alabama 36420

• The Andalusia Ballet is raising money for its new home in the Church Street School Cultural Arts Center. Contributions of any size are welcome. Commemorative bricks are $100; cornerstones are $500. Andalusia Ballet Association, P.O. Box 1736, Andalusia, AL 36420.

• You’ve heard the old proverb. “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for today; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat forever.”

If education is your cause, there are several ways to give.

–LBWCC has two foundations that primarily fund scholarships. LBW Community College Foundation, P O Box 1311, Andalusia, AL 36420 and MSTC Foundation, P.O. Drawer 1418, Andalusia, AL 36420.

–The AHS Class of ’48 Foundation funds scholarships for local students. The address is P. O. Box 603, Andalusia, Al 36420.

There are many other opportunities for giving. Remember the example of the “poor college students” who count themselves lucky to be among the wealthiest people in the world.