While the use of the word Almsgiving has fallen out of the modern vernacular, it is still to be found in religious language and one of the three tenets to be acknowledged during Lent along with fasting and prayer. Many of us give money to our churches and temples and a variety of other charitable organizations, but how many of us specifically give alms to the poor?
In the nearby city, there are several soup kitchens, homeless shelters, a city mission, and poor boxes in a variety of church denominations. Unless we are involved int he day to day lives of the poor, we do not always see the needs. We leave it to our friends and neighbors. Much of this is without thought. Whenever I pass someone asking for money on the road, my first inclination is to roll down my window and give something to them.
Unfortunately, in this electronic world of debit cards, I rarely have any cash in my pocket.
One of the groups that is organized out of my church (and out of many churches across the country) is the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Even before I was a member of my parish, they helped me many times, including with money for a much needed hot water heater. When I went to them it was for advice, perhaps they had a suggestion of a reliable company to use or one that offered the group a discount. I had not expected money towards the heater even though we desperately needed financial assistance. We’re one of hundreds of families who request and are given help throughout the year with both money, food, and resources. Contact your local society or go through your local Diocese’s website for ways to reach them and contribute, not just money, but time as well.
Every year, despite our own monetary shortcomings, I try to give back a. little bit towards them.
Also at the top of my list is our local volunteer fire department. This is not necessarily an alms in the traditional sense of the word, used for the poor, but our local firefighters do not get paid and they come out to help with fires and medical emergencies whenever they are called, no matter the weather or time of day (or night).
Places where I try to send my money when I have it follow below. Please add your own suggestions and charities in the comments to make us aware of what opportunities are out there for us to donate to.
Don’t forget – you can donate more than money. Many charities are looking for clothes, household items, baby items, school supplies, and your time and talent. As the organization before you drop things off so you can make sure that they need what you’d like to give them. Items should definitely be in good, working order and be clean. Imagine if you were receiving this item.
Almshouses in Llanrwst, North Wales built by Sir John Wynn in 1610 as seen from the entrance at Ancaster Square
View of the alley of Almshouses in Llanrwst, North Wales as viewed from St. Gwrst Parish Church and the Afon Conwy
American Red Cross
The Trevor Project
Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation
Human Rights Campaign