I am a sidewalk philanthropist.
There are a handful of charitable organizations I support with significant (to me) donations - organizations that focus on human services and the arts. I am committed to contributing to United Way, and I love supporting local cultural efforts by investing in ArtsWave.
But most of my contributions happen very organically.
I attend lots and lots of charitable functions and support local organizations by buying tickets and bidding at silent auctions.
Buying Streetvibes is another little way I try to do my part to help others. It's a credible, alternative newspaper sold by vendors who are trying to find and maintain permanent housing. Streetvibes vendors are friendly and hard working, and I suggest you give them a chance. They earn 75 cents for every paper sold.
Mark Anthony is my favorite Streetvibes vendor. I regularly see him walking the streets near my home. A hustler in the kindest way possible, this guy washes cars, sells newspapers and takes on other tasks to make a buck or two.
He calls me "Smiley Face" when he sees me, and he once offered to wash my car for free as thanks for being kind to him.
I didn't have the heart to tell Mark Anthony I don't own a car.
Mark Anthony aspires to ownership of his own. The U.S. Army veteran (he says he was shot in Honduras in the 80s) would like to buy a home on the West Side. It's a home someone else owns and is willing to sell to him for $2500.
Mark Anthony already has several hundred dollars saved, but he needs to come up with the rest of the cash by December 31, or the property will transfer to someone else.
Touched by his story and the sincerity of his hopes, I fished a ten-spot out of my wristlet and handed it to Mark Anthony.
"Are you serious? Glory to God! Thank you!" he replied.
His enthusiasm sparkled and shined better than any toy under the Christmas tree.
This holiday season, find your own Mark Anthony. Seek out someone in need, have a personal exchange with them, and offer them whatever kindness and generosity you can afford - financially or emotionally.
I promise you'll come out the winner.
People interested in contributing to Mark Anthony's quest for home ownership may send contributions to the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, ATTN: Mark Anthony Shears, 117 E. 12th St., Cincinnati, OH 45202. You can also reach Mark Anthony via mobile phone at 513.319.6979.
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.