Oprah Winfrey began the giveaway craze when she handed out everything from cars to cashmere sheets on her talk show. Her influence was significant, as many became more mindful not just of what they had but of the satisfaction of giving. The traditional Christian grace may well become ‘for what we are about to give, may the Lord make us truly thankful’... Anet Richards* adopted this approach, and shares her discovery of the joy of generosity.
While on a trip to London for a physiotherapy conference, Anet borrowed a couple of thousand rands from her friend Gary*. When she tried to pay him back on his return to South Africa, he flatly refused to accept the money. Anet argued with him until he suggested she give a R100 gift to anyone who she felt needed it, until the debt was paid up.
‘You will know who to give it to,’ he said.
The thought that she could hold on to the money without him ever knowing did cross her mind… Fortunately it passed quickly – and she’s been on a joyful journey ever since.
Anet started that very day when she observed a solitary lifesaver sitting for hours on the beach with his hoodie around his ears and a towel over his face to keep the sun and wind out. He was diligently focused on the waves and the crowd, and she witnessed him help a few people in strong currents. Anet approached him when his shift had ended.
‘I want to tell you a lovely story,’ she said, and afterwards handed him the R100. He hugged her, beaming in disbelief. ‘Are you sure?’ he asked. ‘Are you serious? I’m going to buy my friends drinks tonight!’ He had spontaneously decided to share his small windfall.
Anet became drawn to many people during that week – homeless or helpful people, smiley or seemingly sad – but she found herself being generous to those who had friendly dispositions yet difficult lives.
The petrol attendant working on Christmas Day while she was on her way to a big family meal said to her: ‘Lady, you must have yourself a happy Christmas!’ She quickly returned the compliment with a blue buffalo note. He said he thought he’d seen an angel.
And, Anet says, ‘Sometimes I give it to someones our just to cheer them up a little.’
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