Charitable giving

December 02, 2014

As I drink my coffee in the morning, I usually scroll through social media, update my website, and comment on all the adorable photos of friends' on Facebook. This morning, I saw that today is #GivingTuesday. After the onslaught of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, I thought that a day focused on giving is good.

Centuries ago when I was in graduate school (well, it was in the last century), an article I read about Maimonides stayed with me. Maimonides was a Jewish philosopher from the Middle Ages who discussed the 8 Levels of Giving (or charity). These 8 levels basically outline ways to preserve the dignity of those receiving charity.  The levels range from the person who gives, but not happily to the person who gives, but only when asked to the person who gives anonymously to the person who gives anonymously to help someone learn a trade and avoid poverty altogether. There are books and books written on his philosophy, so I'm not going to try to compete here. But these 8 Levels have affected how I view charitable giving as a business. One of the middle levels discusses giving in which the benefactor and beneficiary know who is receiving the aid. There is a certain level of glory in giving and getting public adulation for such gifts. 

And so I have often shied away from promoting the charitable giving that I do personally or through my business, ESN Artisan Jewelry. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with charitable giving of ANY sort, please don't misunderstand me. It is the public promotion of such giving with which I am uncomfortable. I get asked at least once a week to donate something to whatever school/non-profit auction is coming up with the promise of promoting my business. And I don't mind giving items as long as they fit with the non-profits I support. But the point shouldn't be about getting new business. To me, it should be about helping groups that work in areas about which I care deeply.

As I saw the hashtag #GivingTuesday this morning, I began to wonder about this. Is it really so bad to promote a day of giving? Perhaps setting an example of giving will encourage others to do the same. I certainly hope so. In the spirit of #GivingTuesday, I've decided to share a few examples of where I do give support for two reasons. First, I hope this will raise awareness of these groups. Second, (and more importably), I hope you will decide to support them as well. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, ESN Artisan Jewelry will donate 20% of all online sales to the Foster Care Support Foundation. Before I went to graduate school, I worked for several years as a foster care worker in middle Georgia. It was a challenging job that I still think about almost every day nearly 15 years later. Children arrive in foster care for a variety of reasons and none are ever their fault. Often, these children have only the clothes on their backs. The State of Georgia provides meager support to families who care for them so it becomes incumbent on various non-profits to provide clothes, toys, shoes, coats, and school supplies. I would love to be able to support this organization more!


A few years ago, I was honored to be on the Board of Visitors for Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. It is a huge hospital that touches a tremendous segment of our community. They are a level 1 trauma center and are also one of the few places in the country with an emergency room for people with psychiatric issues.Plus they have a great children's hospital. If you are ever in a car accident, you want to go to Grady.

The reason I was so fortunate to be on the Grady BOV was through my years of volunteering with The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. I am grateful to be able to be a sustainer advisor to a dynamic group of women this year who are trying to transform Atlanta and our community by training volunteers and by working directly with those in need. The League is working hard to address 3 focus areas including ending commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Atlanta, ending generational poverty, and promoting early childhood education. 

Our church, Trinity Presbyterian Church, does an amazing job working with the Agape Center in Atlanta. The Agape Center works to empower and support underserved families in Atlanta. Plus, Trinity works with The Buckhead Christian Ministry to prevent homelessness and hunger, Refugee Resettlement, and missions in Cuba, Haiti, and the Middle East. Finally, I try to support the Great Pyrenees Rescue of Atlanta because I am so grateful to them for rescuing our dogs. They have rescued over 800 GPs since 2010 including the medically needy ones that shelters would generally put to sleep. 

Thank you for letting me share what charitable work I admire in our community. I know there are countless other worthy organizations- so go find one (or two!) and support them! Let's spread the #GivingTuesday message and not just contain it on a day in December.



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