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December 30th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

A Gift at the End of the Year

GivingI read the other day that 21 individuals or couples in this country made philanthropic pledges in excess of $100 million in 2009. I immediately had two thoughts: Thank God for the generosity of those who have been financially blessed, and I hope and pray such news doesn’t make everyday Americans think that, when it comes to giving, there is very little they can do. 

Yes, it’s staggering to look at the accomplishments of an organization like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is spending billions around the world to wipe out diseases like malaria and provide educational opportunities for kids living in extreme poverty. But the fact is a small donation — and I’m talking about $10 or $20 — can still work small miracles for a lot of people in need. 

Maybe you saw the piece recently on CNN about Keith Taylor, who has started the Modest Needs Foundation to help the working poor through short-term financial crises. Those who are facing an immediate financial burden — needing help with such things as rent for a month, or a particular medical bill or even a pair of eyeglasses — put their requests on Taylor’s Web site. All the requests are researched and verified by a seven-person staff. People like you and me can then peruse the site and contribute what we want, to meet a particular request. In many cases, Taylor says, a small donation can stop a crisis in its tracks.  
That’s a point well worth remembering. So here’s an idea: In these final days of 2009, why don’t you do yourself, and someone else, a favor by sending some small contribution to the charity of your choice? Maybe it’s the Modest Needs Foundation. Or maybe it’s CASA, the Iraq Star Foundation, Red Cross or local humane groups. No, you won’t be treated as the second coming of Bill and Melinda Gates, but that’s hardly the point. Believe me, for someone out there, your little gift will be like pennies from heaven. And I cannot think of a better way for you to end one year and start a new one.

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16 Responses to “A Gift at the End of the Year”

  1. Stellar blog and idea Dr. Phil!

  2. Dear Dr. Phil,

    GETTING REAL GOING GREEN Thrift Stores to benefit The Dr. Phil Foundation.

    State-of-the art, with a coffee shop with treats such as Triplets Gourmet or Mrs. Beasley’s Beverly Hills Bakery cupcakes. Staff trained to recognize valuable artifacts, antiques etc. with pizzazz. With state-of-art website so persons could save donations until space available to donate. Make donating and conserving fun. Since green and white colors of UNT what a lovely legacy to the world Dr. Phil. Online sales. I mean a Thrift Store Extravaganza with worldwide access that doubles as a GREAT meet & greet place to have coffee, donate, shop etc. Online games on website for kids & all to learn a myriad of ways to conserve, recycle & donate.

    You would not believe the amount of surplus donations thrown away by charities that have no room to stock including VALUABLE antiques and autographed books. I discovered quite par chance when I saw over 100 books being thrown away.

    Right now I have items if I donated could very likely be thrown away that could be valuable. See my tweets to Robin today.

    Like many persons and, consequently, thrift stores, I don’t have access to “Antique Road Show” experts to discover value of an autographed book by Nathaniel W. Stephenson with “unpublished” quote of former President Lincoln. Quote shared with him by a relative of his who was a minister.

    EXCELLENT QUOTE I’d share but don’t want to divulge quote or then won’t be unpublished if truly hasn’t been yet.

    I have a (I think it is a 1933) autographed photo of all U.S. Supreme court justices. fancy antique stick horse with hand painted head like a carousel horse w/glass eyes and wheels on end, paintings by a Texas Artist of bluebonnets etc.

    Since the richest woman in the world at one time, Ms. Zhang Yin, and may still be, who lives in China and fills empty import ships from China with trash from USA to recycle I KNOW THAT I KNOW the amount of not only usable and VALUABLE HISTORICAL items trashed in USA could put USA back in the black and be a very lucrative venture. Great for you to do as a vocational program for youth or prisons to give prisoners skills to recognize valuable historical items and get a sense of community.

    When a teen saw me recycling left overs from a garage sale set out for trash curb side pickup in Dallas, he shook my hand and said, “THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT MY GENERATION.” Is EVERYONE ready to care? The statistics that OVER 50% of what is trashed is either usable or recyclable is true as I’ve found money (wheat pennies), jewelry, Civil War photos, 1800’s foot thick Bible, in German, with silver buckles, Office chair I’m sitting in etc. etc. etc. It behooves us all to be good stewards of the earth and one another.

    Dr. Phil, I’m a visionary like your dad and already I’ve had an idea used by Neiman Marcus at North Park that I still have 1986 newspaper clipping and thank you snail mail letter from Neiman Marcus. Mother was supportive of my ideas and listened and cut out article for me that I keep with Neiman Marcus letter.

    Former President Clinton thought my 1998 idea for Emotional and Life Skill Education K-12 DAILY classes w/role playing age appropriate topics etc. a good idea and sent me contact info for EVERY head of Department of Education in USA including Puerto Rico etc. Although, on Emotional Education idea only heard back from CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION that was thought their program could be a model… I have California response “Delaine Eastin” letter in front of me of August 3, 1998. However, my suggestion of removal of Coke machines referenced in letter (with her disagreeing with and suggested teaching healthy food choices) former President Clinton has accomplished to some degree since leaving his Presidency. To me, not practicing what teaching in schools is contradictory to what IS taught. I didn’t have UR credentials yet you do and Jay has done excellent with his Anti-Bully Campaign in Schools.

    I was as passionate about that idea as I was passionate about my home renovation series idea that SEARS thanked me for Feb. 7, 2002, that I still have that email “thank you” print out. A little over a year later SEARS sponsored and may still sponsor Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I chose SEARS as sponsor because shopped there since 15 with earnings with summer job. My dearly departed mom said a good idea before she passed away Feb. 2003, since SEARS use to ship by rail HONOR BILT HOME kits so I challenged SEARS to build MORE than 100 homes like Maxwell House Coffee was doing except in a TV series. I told SEARS an excellent way for them and others to advertise their product lines IN show.

    You can verify true with a former Green Beret Medic w/one silver & two bronze stars and, again, I still have copies of thank yous. That’s how passionate I am that this idea would fly if you or someone gives it wings to fly.

    Ms. Stephenson

  3. i have to say this took my breath away.

    truisms are often true, and one that i have heard all my life is that the people who give most are the people who have the least to give. i only repeat it because the evidence of my life bears out the validity of the statement. whenever i have needed help, it has invariably come from people who understood (viscerally) the trouble i was in.

    you wrote: “I hope and pray such news doesn’t make everyday Americans think that, when it comes to giving, there is very little they can do.”

    please, dr. phil, don’t worry the chrome dome about whether or not hearing the news that all of 21 couples managed to do the right thing devastates my philanthropic impulses.

    i am pretty sure most of us are committed givers, with charities and causes well in mind.


  4. Marie says:

    Totally agree. :- )
    Dr Phil, is it possible to buy your shows on DVD? I must be your biggest fan, I got in the newspaper because of my addiction to your shows. Haha. Love what you do.

    Marie, 19, Norway.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Dr. Phil- Your so right. Donating something can help. A family’s house was in a fire from our church. My husband, Myself & my kids put together a bunch of stuff for them. Even if it’s in your own community. Good idea. :-)

  6. LindaRH says:

    P. Anonymous- Bah humbug? How many people have $100mil to give away? Dr Phil didn’t say these were the ONLY millionaires to give; I’m sure plenty gave lesser amounts according to their means, just like the rest of us.

  7. Anne Benzen says:

    Dear Dr Phil!
    There is about 6823057063, people all around the wold today.
    Why should my litle problem interest you? My parents is Swedish.
    They fall in love again at New years Eve, at 12 am, 2010. It was fireworks at the sky, more than fantastic, my father said. My father and mother was having a lobster dinner at the care of the aged house, were my father lives. My father is 87 and was raised in a family, visiting church every sunday and the black bible is “still standing” in his bookshelf. For my father marrige and stay together “the rest of my life” is not to compromise with. In his world, women are not a real woman without a man. My mother is 83 years old, born in Sweden but german, Catholic, her father was grow up at a Castle in Old Germany, East Preussen, (Royal/Keiser relatives). During the second world war they all became Swedish. My mothers morals is like a Nun. Any word Conected with Sexuality is forbidden. During my Childhood I have never heared a dirty word, in my home. You just not talk about things like that.
    I am 50 years old, my mothers only wish was all three dothers of hers getting married. In my mothers values is a woman second class if not married and she look down on every human being who can´t behave. I am not married, but I have a 20 years old dother to care about, her father left me when my dother was one year old. He fell in love with somebody else. I don´t have problem with talking freely about live or sexuality but my 20 years old douther have became as my mother, she can´t even stand hearing any word conected to Sexuality and this is making me worred about her ability to feel pleasure about Sexuality.
    Dr. Phil can you give me any advise, according to the problem?
    I am worried about she, a young women in her age not even know what satisfaction is according to female sexuality, with loving, caring, and relayable boys in her age. She is a very pretty girl. In her school they didn´t have any aducation about Sex, as is normal in Swedish schools. I am not joking.

  8. Joyce Long says:

    I for one agree, you dont have to be a millionaire to give, I have done it plenty with little to give yet did it anyway.. Yet apparently you have to have money to get any sort of help… I have been to places that said I dont make enough money to qualify for help.. Well if I had enough money duh I wouldnt need help… Went to the new sight, was turned down.. Only offered medical assistance or assistance getting a job neither of which I need… What I do need is a place to live, one I can afford on Husbands disability… Yes I need help, am I going to get it,,, no… Several people now living with me because I was supporting them are now going to be homeless and I cant do a thing to prevent it.
    Yes us ordinary nearly broke folks do still give to charity because every dime counts.

  9. Usually anonymous says:

    Dear Dr. Phil

    I’m so happy to hear some people are able to donate so much money for less fortunate people even in this kind of depression!! I’m usually on the receiving end & regular thrift store shopper, and I can tell you this for sure…my family and I grately appriciate anything and everything we have received!!! Even just a word!!

    And my prayer goes to Joyce, who posted a comment before (above) my comment..I hope things work out for her…

    Thank you so much for this blog post. It’s so nice to hear about people helping each other.

    I have one request though.
    Could you make your website “dial-up” friendly??? I can only afford dial-up right now, and I had to wait 8 minutes for your blog site to load. Your home page was a little faster, it took about 5 minutes. I would love to read more on your site, but it just takes too long to load a page….

  10. Leonie says:

    It’s hard sometimes to remember how just a tiny donation can make a massive difference to people in need. Medicine Sans Frontierres (I think you call them Drs Without Borders) do amazing work & a couple of dollars can immunize hundreds of children against fatal diseases or buy a whole set of surgical instruments. The Fred Hollows Foundation can restore a persons sight in 3rd world countries so they no longer have to be reliant on others to survive. He was an amazing man Fred, died of cancer too young, but his good work continues. Another wonderful charity is the Hamlin Fistula Foundation, they’ve helped thousands of women regain their health, dignity, quality of life & place in their communities. Please look it up, it’s a dreadful condition & so easily fixed. The stories of courage of the women who reach the hospitals are shocking & amazing.

  11. Lesley Polek says:

    Dr. Phil you are so right how a little contribution can go along way to make someone’s day. I’m on a limited income myself however I try to do for others as others have done for me. I’ll give a dollar to the Salvation Army. Most times at the holidays all I can offer is opening the door for someone, helping then with their groceries, smile at them, give them a hug to let them know someone cares.

    I belong to a Clubhouse that’s affiliated with the Mental Health Center in my county. Members of the community that have mental problems and can’t work come there during the day. 3 days a week there are meals at noon time and at holidays parties. Thanksgiving is a big blowout because we’re open to all the community and we average about 80 ppl. a yr.

    They literally saved my life when I was down and out and had nowhere to go. My ex-fiance’s mother kicked me out of her house, I got an apt that a month later I had to give up because I was fired from my job and that’s a whole other show. I’d literally hit rock bottom as I’d relapsed 3 mos prior. The staff and members that I met were great. They made me feel right at home. So at the end of that year if someone new came in I’d greet them at the door, ask who they were there to see then I would call that person to let them know that someone was there to see them. So somtimes it doesn’t have to be monetarily given it can be a hug, holding the door, buying them a pop or help cooking a hot meal for the members. The members are supposed to help where they can, i.e. setting the table, helping to cook the meal, clean up afterwards etc. It just gives me great pleasure and peace of mind to know I made a difference in someone’s life and they left with a smile on their face.

  12. R. Burt says:

    kI left a comment on the Pet section last night and am thinking it may be ok to put the ideas on this spage too. The two ideas are about gifts, donations and are unique. They are done in Canada and the United States but not everyone everywhere knows they can be done.


    Not everyone knows that if they participate in the FOOD RESCUE process either as a donor, or a collector or as a distributor without cost to recipient, (please read exact wording of appropriate legislation for your area) they are legally protected, if doing so in good faith, in the United States by the “Good Samaritan Act” signed by President Bill Clinton and in Canada the provinces have their own laws. In Ontario it is the Donation of Food Act, 1994 but the others be found at:

    Food Banks Canada’s website

    Many stories in the news say that Food Banks are struggling to meet the need. Food Banks specialize in Non-Perishable Foods ie tinned foods. FOOD RESCUE is collecting the perishable fresh and frozen foods that are unused, still good and have not been “plated” and then giving it away to those in need. The foods come from places like restaurants, small grocery stores, bakeries, coffee shops, specialty stores, or things like special events that got cancelled or too much food was made for the number that attended and lots more places.

    One place that does FOOD RESCUE in Canada says that they divert 5.77 million pounds of surplus food from landfills each year which adds up to $7.12 million worth of food …feeding 40,000 people a month – yet – they are only capturing less than 1% (one per cent) of the food being wasted!

    They say that we don’t have a hunger problem, we have a distribution problem.

    Some examples of PET FOOD BANKS are:

    Charlies Food Bank in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

    Pikes Peak Pet Pantry – Colorado, USA

    Save Our Pets Food Bank – USA, which provides a list of Pet Food Banks they are aware of

    FOOD RESCUE examples:

    Quest Outreach Society or Quest Food Exchange in British Columbia, Canada

    Second Harvest in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    – their info says they collect enough food for 15,000 meals every day

    Boston University Community Service Center – they have an award winning FOOD RESCUE program and their information says that their students collect 150,000 pounds of food annually

    The Dream Center in Los Angeles – visted by President Bush because of how well the Dream Center is run. They take the food to the schools in needy areas so the the parents can get the food there rather than leaving their children at home while they grocery shop.

    there are many ways the food gathered can be given out.

    One is to prepare breakfasts for students and/or others – breakfast being known to be the most important meal of the day.

    Another is to have homework clubs where students come after school and do an activity like volleyball to get out excess energy, have a snack of heathy food and drink, which reduces the family’s expenses for food, and ensures the student gets healthy food, then as a group they do their homework in a quiet atmosphere where their peers encourage them to study, which helps them get better grades and to develop good study practises which will help them get into and do well in higher education and jobs so later their families benefit because of the higher wage and so does their community. It also provides a good place to go after school.

    Another would be for people who want to learn how to cook or become a chef could receive free training and also receive as a benefit some of the foods rescued for themselves and their family while they are being trained, and the foods that they prepare can be given out or taken to those in need (see St. Mary’s the First Food Bank as an example)

    An additional idea could be those who need food could gather together and start a FOOD RESCUE program in their area and donate time to gather the food and take it to a place to sort and distribute in exchange for food instead of pay and the surplus can be given away to others. (see Quest Outreach)
    Another idea is to have a free restaurant where street folk and others can come for meals. (see Langley Food Bank, Lighthouse Cafe – British Columbia)

    When I searched the term “FOOD RESCUE” on the internet I found stories of young children having fun going out with their parents and helping to rescue food to help those in need, so, it can be an all age project even a family can enjoy together.

    I hope that these ideas are noticed by Dr. Phil and he will invite people who have PET FOOD BANKS and are doing FOOD RESCUE successfully to be on his show and to tell others how they started to do it and how they grew it to be successful so that others can do it where they live and they will become successful at it too.

    TWhy should good food go to waste when there are people and pets in need?

    When I was hungry – you fed me – because of Love.

  13. Kim says:

    I did several very small contributions in Dec 2009. I found that several places realized how hard it was for people to make the big donations this year and made a point of encouraging smaller ones, such as $1 to send some candy to the troops, $5 for already prepared bags to send to the food bank, any amount welcomed at the local thrift store with a pledge that it would be used locally, etc. I won’t make any news with my year round contributions to the Red Cross or Habitat but I have seen how a lot of small amounts can come together to make a big one.

  14. R. Burt says:


    I forgot a “-” when I typed their info try:


    and there seems to be a problem with the Food Banks Canada link that I will check into but it does take you to their site.

    Every community of every size: big city, town, village or gathering of people can do FOOD RESCUE and have a PET FOOD BANK – all that’s needed to start is to have a designated place that people will know to bring the food to (advertise and promote) and for for the food to be picked up from or distributed from, and at least one fridge and freezer to put the food in until it is picked up or delivered AND check the other websites for what types of food they accept and how they do the process and you are on your way.

    Pe food can even easily be picked up at Church after a service or other type of general public Meeting place anywhere or find another small place to start it.

    If you are in an area where the need is great, a meal can be prepared for after the Church service or before Wednesday night meeting (where people already are) that’s open to all and using the FOOD RESCUE process to get the food to those who need help but feel uncomfortable telling others about their situation. (They can take home “doggie bags” of left over dinner.)

    You will meet a great need and help preserve the dignity of folks no one knows are struggling.

    Food and Fellowship that’s great!

    I think if one looks for ways to give the food where it fits in normally and comfortably to what’s being done and they will be extra blessed.

  15. i think it’s important to keep persisting, many things take more than just a year to get good at!

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