I believe the answer to that question is an important one. It can help define who you are and what you have and choose to give to the world. The list that follows is not meant to stimulate your thinking. It is meant to stimulate action. All of us can do all of these things. And in doing them we will not only be helping others, we will be helping ourselves deal with and grow from these events as well.
Give Resources. You have heard it and will hear it often. The resources required by these events will be unprecedented. Open your wallet and give. It doesn’t matter which charity you choose, just give. Pick a number, then add to it. Do a search on Katrina relief to find places to contribute. You can give more than money though. Perhaps you have other resources that you could offer. Spare blankets or other supplies will inevitably be leaving from your community in the coming days. Watch for these announcements and donate. If you know someone affected, or know someone who knows someone, perhaps you can provide a spare bedroom. You can even support relief efforts each time you search the internet. Go to http://allgive.com to search and learn more.
Give Yourself. If your situation allows, perhaps you feel drawn to go and help. If you are thinking about that and you can, go. Many of us won’t be able to go and lend a hand directly. You can still give of time and talents locally and have a direct impact on efforts there. Organizations like The Salvation Army and The Red Cross will be spread thin for months. If you volunteer in your town, more physical resources can remain on the Gulf Coast longer.
Encourage Others to Give. This is a way for you to give of your talents. Use the leadership and influence skills that you have to encourage others to give. If you own a business, match employee contributions to relief efforts. If you are involved in any sort of organization, start a fund raising effort. A colleague of mine sent an email saying he would match any gifts given by those on his list up to a total of $500. Every person could do this. Ask yourself who you could influence and how you could personally help increase giving. Get creative! And get started.
Say a Prayer. Regardless of your religious beliefs, or how you would state this, say a prayer. Say one for those who have lost family. For those who have lost their homes. For those who are sick or thirsty or hungry. And say a special prayer those involved in rescue and recovery efforts – those giving of themselves to make things better for others.
Keep Your Perspective. It is sometimes hard to keep a healthy perspective as you watch the events on television. It is easy to let the worry and concern become overwhelming. Do yourself a favor and don’t let these events overpower your life. Be grateful for your situation. Rethink how upset or frustrated you become at little inconveniences or challenges, because these situations mean little in the bigger scheme of things, and the events of recent days should make this very clear to us.
Conserve. Our country is going to be dealing with the aftermath of Katrina for a long time. There are other little things that we can do that will make a difference. Conserve fuel. Carpool to work. Combine your errands, or just stay home. Turn off your air conditioning and turn off the lights. Fossil fuels will be in short supply and every little bit helps. Plus every dollar you don’t spend on fuel, is another dollar you could choose to donate to relief efforts.
Give Again, Later. Many will give now, but agencies like The Red Cross will tell you that after the situation leaves most people’s conscious thoughts, the needs will still be great. Make a commitment now to make another contribution later in the year. One way to do this is to reduce your holiday spending and earmarking the difference for Katrina relief.
I’m sure there are many more things that you can do to help both yourself and others in the coming weeks. It matters less what you do than that you do something. That is my urging to you. You can make a difference, but only if you take action.
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group http://KevinEikenberry.com, a learning consulting company. To receive a free Special Report on leadership that includes resources, ideas, and advice go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/leadership.asp or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.