The Blessings of Giving


Violet's Drawing

I know a beautiful little girl named Violet.

She’s seven and lives with her mother, brother, and sister.

She works hard in school and to help her family.

She drew me the lovely picture atop this post.

Violet lives in South Africa, in a community overwrought with poverty and the AIDS virus.

I have sponsored Violet for about a year through World Vision, a wonderful organization that makes a huge difference for children facing poverty and illness around the world.

I’ve debated for months whether or not to post about Violet. On one hand, I’m so proud of her. She’s absolutely beautiful, and in the time I’ve been her sponsor, I’ve seen her grades improve and I’ve read positive reports about her.

On the other hand, it has seemed like a private matter to me. I’ve always felt that, when you do something good, you should do it without ego, without boastful pride (something with which I struggle).

Well, tonight’s “Idol Gives Back” was overwhelming to me, and it left me with a sense that I should share about Violet…so that others will not only know how great it feels to help someone…but how great that help is for the recipient.

I was so impressed with the “Idol Gives Back” event because it was the perfect blend of schmaltz, raw emotion, entertainment, and humor. Not only was I extremely moved and entertained (Josh Groban, Kelly Clarkson, and Annie Lennox were phenomenal)…I was motivated to give…not much…but enough to help.

And that’s the beauty of giving…it doesn’t take much. A dollar. An hour. A phone call. A hand. A prayer.

I hope all of you found a way to give…whatever that way was. So often we forget that we are an extremely blessed people.

Not only is each of us probably sitting in front of our very own computer right now…we are able to read these words…that, alone, makes us luckier than so very many people in this world.

Please, help where you can. I promise, you’ll feel good, and, more importantly, the person you help will feel better.


To find out more about “Idol Gives Back,” click here.

To donate to “Idol Gives Back,” click here.

To download “Idol Gives Back” performances from iTunes, click here.

To find out more about the One campaign, click here.

To find out more about World Vision, click here.


25 Responses to “The Blessings of Giving”

  1. texan Says:

    shel… I love you for that!

  2. Hickstyeria Says:

    It does make a difference. I sponsored a child through the Christian Children’s Fund for years and received letters and photos about the place in Ethiopia where he lives. I learned about the well building and about the school and also how his lessons were – it was a window into a world I could at least try to understand. I have rarely mentioned it to anyone because I agree that it’s mainly a private issue but, in the context of this post, I want to say that it means so much to those who receive and, for me, it’s one of the better things I’ve done in my life.

  3. JaneyLOL Says:

    As some of you may or may not know….

    But I give back to my people – the deaf kids… after all I was once one.

    I do this by devoting literally 90% of my spare time every day and on weekends after my day job to run a state chapter as the state chapter President for a large international deaf organization called Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing – affectionally known as AGBell.

    Since age 9, I knew it was my responsibility (and the reason for my existence on this planet) to inspire people that the deaf CAN hear with all the proper therapy, information, encouragements, and medical devices. Yes the deaf can hear their ipod – just need to get a $250 special hearing ear piece to hear it!

    I have personally witness the horror and the fear when parents are first informed that their child is deaf – they grieve the “loss” of their dreams and expectations for their child BUT.. I have also witnessed the joy and pride of seeing their deaf children bloom into beautiful roses of their own like never before.

    Yes I concur much of what we are inspired are our personal private business but I choose to lose my anonymity for every statement such as this I make because my people who do not want to lose their anonymity are now so well blended in today’s society that you don’t see “the deaf” as much anymore. We have increasingly become very functional in the hearing world but we still suffer in silence/social isolation and in extremely lonely lifestyle. I am their VOICE.

    Whatever is your passion – give your heart to it and your heart grows larger 😉

    I know I am by just being normal plain Janey deaf redhead chick so groovied in music 😉

    If any of you are interested in more about AGBell – check it out at

  4. shrewspeaks Says:

    I have supported charities through the years…giving here giving there…but…One just seems focused enough to make believing it can happen easy; one person, one dollar, one life at a time. Signed up.

    I have a headache from weeping so much…seriously, I was a constant flow of water works. Except for the Elvis moment…that was ummm interesting as Mom would say.

    Annie was AWESOME…and please Ellen “Money where her mouth is”…BRAVA!

  5. music maven Says:

    I thought Ellen was the only one who really stepped up to the plate. I think they all should have matched it, frankly. What’s 100 Grand to those guys?

    I think that charitable giving is a responsibility. I prefer to do mine locally where I can actually see my dollars at work. I’m actively involved in our United Way here and they support 52 charities. I have seen this organization as well as the Catholic Charities that I’m involved in change lives all around me.

    Folks should support what they’re comfortable with but it really doesn’t take much, at all, to make a real difference. I learned that from my Dad. For over 30 years, he sponsored children on Indian reservations and each month we’d get a picture and letter that he’d share with me. It stuck with me all these years.

    While some of the AI stuff seems a little disingenuous to me, what they did will raise money for folks who really need it and they have a forum to easily do it. The sheer numbers of exposed viewers provide such a great opportunity to raise money for these charities.

  6. jenfera Says:

    Hooray for Ellen! That was awesome what she did, and I hope all those celebrities made some sort of personal contribution to the effort.

    Loved Annie, she is amazing.

    It’s true there are so many ways to tie charitable giving into whatever you are passionate about. Mine is food, so I have a small group of friends that I get together with once a month to try different restaurants. We each put the name of a restaurant we’d like to try into a hat, and whoever’s choice is selected also gets to choose a charity. Everyone then has to chip in $10 to that charity when we go to dinner. So, it’s not much, but together we are giving $60 a month, or $720 a year, to great local charities.

    We figure that if we are blessed enough to be able to indulge ourselves in a nice night out, the least we can do is share the wealth each time.

    I always write up a review of the restaurant in my blog, but I have never mentioned the charitable donation part. We aren’t going out looking for praise for doing it, we just want to do our part.

  7. nolagirl Says:

    Great post Shelley. Violet sounds like an awesome kid. 🙂

    I liked that they seemed to stress last night that $10 can buy this much medicine or this many meals, etc. I hope that inspired people enough to pick up the phone or go online and donate, feeling that their “small” donation will indeed help.

    Ellen is fab, as usual. The Elvis thing had me laughing, only because my mom was all “But, but I don’t GET it! Is there really someone there??” Silly mom. I hate to be negative on such a positive post, but I have to ask fellow Idol watchers about Kelly Clarkson. Is it just me or did she look a bit puffed up? (the shapeless dress didn’t help, I’m sure).

    Oh, and poor Jordin! That was mean to do to her!

  8. Shelley Says:

    Um…I thought Kelly was running a close race with Annie Lennox for most amazing performance last night.

    The funny thing about it is, after she sang, I told Bama that hers was one of those performances that transcended the place, her look, the event…everything. I thought she poured her heart into it…and I thought the arrangement with Jeff Beck was brilliant.

  9. nolagirl Says:

    I prefered Kelly’s performance over Annie’s … but that’s because I’ve never cared for Annie’s voice (maybe it’s the phrasing?) that much.

    Shell – What’s the “um” for?

  10. Shelley Says:


  11. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I adore Annie Lenox but, I liked Kelly’s better too. I thought it was incredible. Between her and Josh Groban, everyone else coulda just stayed home.

    I did like Carrie Underwood’s version of that song…but I thought the video was cheesy.

    I LOVED the Elvis/Celine thing. I thought it was creative and they sounded SO good together. I loved it.

    Janey- Thanks so much for your post. I thought it was very moving and inspiring. You obviously have a lot of passion for your cause. I think it’s important to find a charity that is close to your heart…

  12. leejolem Says:

    I really loved Josh G’s performance. The little kids were adorable. The footage of Simon and Ryan with the dying woman in Africa made you see a human side to Simon–it was almost jarring. I missed performance night (cuz we were seeing the ultimate performance in Columbus). How was everybody? I thought it was cruel the way they made it seem that Jordin was going home. I’m also not sure it’s fair that Chris and Jordin were identified as the bottom 2 (or were they?) becAuse now they will probably get more votes.

    Let me just say, I love Ellen! I think she is so genuine.

    Who got voted off DWTS? It’s rough missing mon and tues night tv! Missed all you guys, but got to meet lots of fun people. HC4S and I need to get it together and do our write-up. I’m dying to tell y’all about it!!!!!!!

  13. leejolem Says:

    I forgot the most imporant thing–We sponsor a little boy through Compassion International.His name is Henri, and he’s from Bolivia. He is adorable. Shelley, You’ve inspired me to keep in better touch with him. I’m not good at writing him. We’ve sponsored him for about 3-4 years and he’s growing up.

  14. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Hi Lee! Can’t wait to hear about Columbus!

  15. HicksChick4Soul Says:

    COLUMBUS WAS AMAZING, and all I’m gonna say now is–Thanks Bill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (And we definately should start to write Henri.)

  16. leejolem Says:

    Bama, who left DWTS this week? I’m countin on my reality show Monkbot sistah!

  17. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Heather went bye-bye! It was her time…..

  18. JAG Says:

    Shelley ,beautiful post! I was moved to tears last night watching the images of all those who are suffering so much! My heart goes out to all of them and to be able to make a difference in just one life would be awesome!! If every person contributed just one dollar,so many lives could be saved! Last night AI was truly inspirational in using their forum to unite the world against poverty and disease! Every man, woman and child deserves to have hope!

  19. abbysee Says:

    I am glad I lurk here. I was reading on another blog and they were tearing the program apart, questioning it’s motives, all the while talking about why they hadn’t watched, which I guess that means they didn’t donate too. I gather apathy is still alive and well. I commend AI for doing this. It created awareness and opened a dialogue that should never close in my home and hopefully in many homes across America.

    Kelly Clarkson was awesome, Josh Groban….I have no words. Watching Simon Cowell, in all of his taped pieces, he showed his humanity fully. All in all it was a great idea, and I hope they continue it It is a blessing to give.

  20. Shelley Says:

    Abby, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I had a brief notion last night to snark a little in my write-up and then I thought…what would be the point of that?

    The fact is…money was raised and people in need will benefit.

    Plus…the fact that the general public had the same opportunity to help as celebrities and corporations really struck a chord with me.

    I don’t understand wanting to tear down something that, obviously, went beyond itself.

    Were there parts I didn’t like? Sure.

    Did I think some of it was about marketing? Sure.

    But do I care? Not in the least.

    The fact of the matter is…AI, Apple, Coke, Ford, ConAgraFoods, AT&T, Bono, Ellen, Gwyneth, etc…would make money regardless of whether they participated in something like this event. I mean, 19Entertainment is raking in the dough each week and each year…growing, even. They didn’t have to do anything.

    But they did…and for that…I applaud them…and hope others follow suit.

    I mean, how awesome would it be if shows like Gray’s Anatomy, The Office, Desperate Housewives, whatever…did something like make their shows downloadable from iTunes for two different prices each week: $1.99 and $2.04. I know I’d pay 5 cents more for a favorite show if I knew that entire 5 cents was going toward feeding the hungry or clothing the naked or giving shelter to the homeless.

  21. shrewspeaks Says:

    Well said…and what a fabulous idea.

  22. Quossum Says:

    Nice post, Shelley. Yes, I thought there were some cheesy and / or les-than-likable parts about this week, one of which was the drawn-out tease of “most shocking elimination ever!!!” (Come on, once it was narrowed to two, break it to both of them, don’t make poor Jordin think she was going home!)

    But, bottom line, lots of money was raised for some great causes, and that’s a good thing.

    I tend to give (and not nearly often enough volunteer) to local causes, too, especially our SPCA and the homeless and children’s support groups that my church is involved with.

    Possibly the most direct help I gave to a cause was when the church put together these “Hope Bags,” bags of water and non-perishable food, along with maps and information about local shelters and sources of help. You could keep these bags in your car and give them to people panhandling on the street. I’ve been meaning to make up some more bags ever since I gave my last one away, but it’s so easy to get complacent and lazy…

    Ah! Thanks for the inspiration to get off my duff and do more!


  23. ruhappytoseeme Says:

    awww very sweet and I dont think your boasting, your helping a child in need and I agree ai did a great thing this year, I voted for the whole 4 hours to get as many calls in (actually voted 4 and a halfd cause I thought time wasnt up yet, sad huh? couldnt figure out why it was busy for the last half hour lOL) we sent a small donation in, I so wish we could give like the stars, but sadly we dont make that kinda money, but they say ever dollar helps, I hope so. I hope many lives are helped from this, I know my life was touched .

  24. leejolem Says:

    RU, I’m sure it’s the $5 and $10 donations that make up the bulk of the charitable contributions in this country. You’d be amazed what that can buy in a poor country.

  25. Dr. Bob Says:

    Shelley, thanks for talking about Violet. On the prayer list she goes! Talking about the blessings of giving is a nice reminder. Both the giver and the recipient are equally blessed.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: