Imagine a world where your small acts of kindness warm your heart, improve your health, strengthen your community bonds and even extend your lifespan.
This is not a utopian dream; it’s the reality for everyday philanthropists—individuals who discover that giving, regardless of the size of their bank accounts, creates a ripple effect of positivity in their lives and the lives of others.
Although we usually correlate philanthropy with wealthy people, anybody, regardless of their income, can enjoy the benefits of giving. Here's a case that proves anyone can be a philanthropist within their means:
While serving in the Navy during World War II, Thomas Cannon survived several accidents that killed more than 300 of his shipmates. Cannon credits his escape from these accidents as the reason for his philanthropy. "Such escapes made me believe that I was being preserved for something,” he says.
Cannon, who began donating money in 1972, frequently chose people whom he heard about in the news. Throughout 33 years, Cannon gifted more than $156,000, often by mailing $1,000 checks to the staff of the local newspaper, with instructions about who should receive the money. His charity helped support a local group that volunteered in the elementary school, a woman who started a youth center in her low-income neighborhood and an orphaned teen who was active in his community.
Cannon managed these donations on a $20,000-a-year postal worker salary. In time, he was forced to quit his job and become a full-time caretaker for his wife. That's when much of his philanthropy came back to him, as the community came together to provide him and his wife with a house and medical care.
Before he died, Cannon suggested the best way to honor his memory would be for others to just “Help somebody.”
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