Off the Press

December 20, 2011

By Kathleen R. Merrill

It’s the little things that really matter

Kathleen Merrill Press managing editor

They say it’s better to give than receive. I think both feel pretty good.

In my mind, though, giving lasts longer.

Purse strings have gotten tighter for many people in the past couple of years, and it’s hard to give to others when you’re receiving less.

Then again, I think many people overthink giving on a regular basis. We see pleas for $50 or $100, or sometimes even more (such as in the case of tickets to fundraising events). I don’t know about you, but I often can’t afford $50, let alone more than that.

However, even as paychecks and benefits have gotten smaller, many people have found ways to give. I was thinking about this the other day when the reporting staff was discussing the subject of compassion fatigue. People do get tired of being asked to give when their expenses are going up and their salaries are not going up to match.

But here’s something I’ve learned: Even the smallest things count to someone with little or nothing.

Case in point: Last week, the Humane Society sent out an email saying it really needed help helping others feed their animals. Organizers of the fundraiser had set up an account where the society’s delivery address was already plugged in. You could go online and purchase just one can or bag of cat food, or dog food.

I thought about how long a bag of cat food lasts my cat, and how long a bag of dog food lasts my dog. A few clicks later, I was the proud donor of two of the most-needed items on the list — bags of cat food. I thought about how maybe an elderly man or woman on a fixed or low income could keep his or her beloved feline that much longer with just one more bag.

In a store recently, I purchased two cans of vegetables for a holiday food drive. I didn’t have much extra to spend that week, but I knew those cans would make a difference to someone who needed them.

See, it isn’t always how much you give — it’s that you do give.

A few dollars here, a few items there can make all of the difference in the world to someone who has less than you do. And no matter how little you have, there is always someone who has less. Think about that when the bell ringer at the grocery store asks you if you have any change in your pocket.

I remember one year many years ago when I was having a really tough year, physically and financially, that someone I didn’t know very well brought me groceries for Christmas. A ham, canned yams, marshmallows, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, green beans, and bread and rolls meant I had meals for nearly a week that I didn’t have to pay for. They even included a toy for my cat and food for my fish.

It was one of the best Christmases I ever had.

Kathleen R. Merrill: 392-6434, ext. 227, or Comment at

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