The year before I started university, a friend brought me to an event our friend’s fraternity was holding, Homeless for the Homeless. So on that cold November evening, I threw a sweater over my work clothes and headed to campus to what would be the first night of a decade-long tradition for me. That night, the boys slept in a small hut made of found materials (skids, cardboard, tarps, and twine) to help raise donations and awareness for the local Downtown Mission. That was in November 2007.
This past Thursday night, I once again bundled up and headed to the ‘Homeless Hut’, as some of us have dubbed it over the years. No one from that first year is around any more, and there are more new faces than familiar ones. Still, I managed to scrounge up 2 garbage bags full of clothes and a large shopping bag full of non-perishable food items for their annual event (which has been around much longer than I have). I had my traditional dinner of 7-11 hot dogs and taquitos, drank coffee and soda, and sat out in the rain (somehow it rains every year) until 1:30am talking with some of the newer faces around.
This has become one of my favourite events of the year. I fell on some very hard times in my early 20’s, and the Downtown Mission was the only reason I had food in my belly. So when I saw these young men and their friends spending 3 days and 2 nights out in the cold and rain, raising awareness for such an awesome cause, I fell in love with the event. Even though I’m not a student, I still go back year after year with my donations. And I’m not the only one. Frat alumni show up, anyone from last year’s graduates to the city’s mayor who was a brother long before I was around.
This was something I found, that I love, and that I’ve continues to do. There were at least a dozen clubs I joined as a student, all of which I seemed to just forget about. I tried to make the effort to stay involved with things, but nothing really kept my attention besides this. And that’s ok.
You don’t need to put your all into every single activity you join. If you find just one thing that you can give your all too, that is plenty. Instead of going to every single charity event/bake sale/bar crawl/fundraiser you get invited to, why not pick out only the ones that are meaningful to you. You can always prepare for those few all year ’round. This year, budget allowing, I plan on putting away a small amount in my piggy bank each pay period to go towards Homeless for the Homeless. I also collect clothes from family members (they like to give me their old stuff anyway) and save it for this one event. Also, I plan on expanding my charity to breast cancer events next fall. I haven’t run (on purpose) since high school, but I am hoping to complete at least one 5K for charity next fall. Having only two causes to focus on means I can give them both my all.
So don’t feel bad if you can’t make it to every event you want to, or you can’t afford to donate to every cause you’re asked to. Do what you can, what you are comfortable with, and don’t feel guilty for not doing more.