Friday, November 5, 2010

Giving Thanks

by Kerry, YEA Fall Intern

Everyone at some point in their lives has probably heard the expression “Come to the dinner table/eat your peas/finish your brussel sprouts! Don’t you know there are starving kids in the world?”

A few months ago, my six-year-old cousin Ann was dawdling to the dinner table when my uncle first said those well-known words to her. Her response was less well-known and not exactly the response her parents expected. Ann asked if they could tell her the addresses of the hungry kids so she could bring them her food because it made her sad that she had food and they didn’t. The expression aimed towards encouraging children to give thanks for what they have encouraged my cousin to give up her food to give to kids she didn’t even know so that they wouldn’t be hungry.

Who knew people in the United States, let alone youths in the United States, cared about helping people or appreciating what they have? After all, we’ve only recently been surpassed by China as the world’s largest consuming nation. We have less than 5 percent of the world population and use 21 percent of the world’s energy. We spend more money per day on blue jeans than some countries spend a year on food.

The United States actually gives the most money in aid to other countries; however, in terms of percent of all the money in the US, we’re very far from first place. Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands far outrank the United States in terms of aid as a percent of all funds within the country. The United States and Japan are tied at .19% of national income going towards foreign aid.

Private philanthropy accounts for about 23% of all US funds towards other countries. Private philanthropy includes foundations, corporations, voluntary organizations, and universities and colleges. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spearheaded by billionaire Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, is the most well known of these types of organizations.

The statistics and data sets and pie charts don’t mention the young philanthropists or the children like my cousin who, given the opportunity, would help out people they’d never met in a heartbeat. They appreciate everything they’ve been lucky enough to have in life and would go even further and give up what they have to help others. In the upcoming holiday season, keep children like Ann in mind, but also the children she wanted to help and who desperately need help.

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