Toward the end of every December, humanity seems to go a little crazy. I’m not talking about the hordes out shopping or the rage on the road. I’m not talking about consumerism, or religion, or even the painful number of times we all have to hear Mariah Carey tell us what (or rather, who) she wants for Christmas.
What I am talking about is the fact that most of us have just made it through a very hard year. And even if 2014 was the best year of your life, it was a tough one for the world at large. From natural disasters to corporate disasters; MH370 to MH17; suicides , overdoses, and police brutality, 2014 was not our brightest hour.
Still, December somehow finds us wishing each other happiness, giving gifts for no reason, and choosing – just one more time – to believe that maybe there is hope. Every year it is this dogged determination to rise above the pain and heartache of simply being alive that amazes me. And so, Realized Worth joins in the chorus with one more offering of hope this holiday season.
“When people perform a random act of kindness or volunteer, it is the face-to-face interaction with the people who are benefitting from their actions that changes attitudes and behaviors.”
There are so many reasons our team loved watching this account of the actions of a police force in Kansas City. Some of us may have even shed a tear or two (I admit nothing). But there are three things in particular that our team, living and operating both professionally and personally in the world of volunteerism, that had a significant impact on us. Take three minutes to watch the video and then see the reasons listed below.
1. Proximity to the Beneficiary
The officers in this video are interacting with their community in a way they rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to. When people perform a random act of kindness or volunteer, it is the face-to-face interaction with the people who are benefitting from their actions that changes attitudes and behaviors. The purpose of volunteering is to become better people who make more informed and compassionate decisions. The more familiar these policemen become with the faces, names, families, and stories of the men and women in their community, the less likely they are to come to quick and dangerous judgments.
2. True Engagement
As the video states, this Secret Santa typically gives his $100k out to the community himself. But he wisely realized that distributing the cash through the hands of policemen would have a far greater impact. For companies that give most of their philanthropic dollars away without engaging employees in the actual giving, note how this exercise affects the policemen in this video. They meet dread, anxiety, fear, and one really bad attitude with a sort of guerrilla-style generosity; totally unexpected, totally effective, watching relief wash over the faces of those they’re helping, rather than fining or arresting. Engage employees by putting the cash in their hands. Through dollars for doers or other programs, let the employees give it away. Remember, the power of charitable giving is not only to change, but to be changed.
3. In Giving, We Receive
The Secret Santa behind this surprising generosity explained that he wanted the policeman to experience joy. He wanted them to have one moment where they are not the sole ruiner of a person’s day – but rather, the savior. Kindness makes us kinder and you can bet this police force went home to their families with a happy story to tell. Bit by bit, over time, these experiences make us smarter, more generous, compassionate men and women. I can’t say it enough: The purpose of volunteering is not to change the world, but to be changed in the world.