Community Sharing and the Joy of Giving

At the end of last week I joined a Facebook group called Kai Care Dunedin (in Maori, kai means food).

The idea behind the group (not the first of its kind) is that people who have excess food can post what they have and someone in need can get in touch with them to arrange drop-off or collection. (It’s my understanding that there are similar groups run in other regions, and if your own region doesn’t have one, maybe you could set one up if you like the idea.)

As someone who’s (all going well…) about to get stuck into food growing, via a good-sized vege patch and some fruit trees, this idea excites me greatly. I love being able to help people… it alleviates any guilt I have about living my dream, especially as I know so many don’t and may never have the opportunity to live theirs. The least I can do is share mine where it’s wanted. So, with a big question mark over our successful purchase (we still have to get our house to market… we’re working our tails off to make it worth enough money to help us afford the one we want), and then a baby due to arrive, I realise I may not have a huge haul of vegetables and fruit this year, but there are future years, yet. And so I have joined this group with the future in mind. If I can get something growing this summer (all fingers crossed), I’ll be on that group’s wall sharing what I can.

Gardening in a greenhouse

My efforts at vege growing before our local wind destroyed my plastic green house

My excitement at even the potential possibility tells me something about myself…I love to give.

It’s one of the reasons I want to live the life we’re aiming for, the lifestyle. I see so much more potential for giving and sharing there. That’s something I really want to do.

I took my son to Chipmunks (an indoor fun park) the other day, as a mother often needs to let her child run and play without “Mum, come and watch this!” or “Mum, help me do this.” or “Mum! Can you…?” Anyway, he recently turned 5, so I thought I would let him have an experience of having his own money to spend, and I gave him five $1 coins to spend on the few rides that cost money there. He used $1 with another dollar given by another child’s mum so him and two other kids could go on the carousel. He used another $1 to go on the space ship ride. I left him to it after that. But, soon, he proudly ran over to me to announce that he had paid for some other kids to have rides. I don’t know if it was one or two others, all I know is he only had $1 left. Either way, all I could tell him was how proud I was of his choice.

I realise some might prefer it if I teach “responsibility” with money in the traditional, hold all your pennies sense. But I can’t help but feel that the world is due for a change. Something does need to change. Call me loopy. Call me left-wing. I don’t care. If someone has plenty (and, believe me, my son is spoiled!) then there is little harm in sharing with those who have less… or, heck, just their community in general.

I also realise that the other kids could have asked their mums or dads to pay for rides. But my son was getting practice at making his own choices, and I was more than happy with them. And, he clearly found as much joy in sharing his rides as he would have in having them himself. I allowed my son to experience the joy of giving. I’m pretty chuffed with that.


Now time for me to share why I started this blog now when I don’t even have the home I’m writing about here, yet.

I’ve signed up for the AMP Do Your Thing Scholarship, in which you may or may not be able to vote for me in the People’s Choice Awards (there may be country limitations… but, if you’re in New Zealand…). Of course, you’re more than welcome to look at other applicants and decide that they’re more worthy. It’s very likely.

Still, as a person who loves to give, what am I doing asking?

Well, we’re stretching ourselves financially to live this dream. And, yes, once we achieve it (please, please, please) I’ll be very happy regardless. And, initially, I won’t have a whole lot of time or energy to help others (I’ll be looking after a baby). That won’t stop me opening our house to couch surfers (as long as they don’t mind the odd middle of the night wake-up… which I will try to minimise, but, you know…). And, as soon as I’m able, I will be gardening, and getting stuck into planting some natives around the place, as well as my apple seedlings I planted in pots 2-4 years ago, and my blueberry bushes I care for on our little balcony for the time being.

Any extra money I can possibly win will help me buy more plants to establish our little native dream sooner. It might allow me to drive some couch surfers into town, rather than sending them away on the bus (I’d have to drive them to the bus stop, anyway, and pick them up). It would help me make the improvements to the land to make it more suitable for horses (there are some drainage issues in a few patches that would only get worse if horse hooves cut a path through them). Basically, at this end of things, it would help get us established. From there, with a strong base behind us, we will get stuck into doing what we can to strengthen our community.

Some prize money may even be the difference between us successfully purchasing the new place… or not. That’s all dependent on the buyers who come looking at our current home. But, of course, the more we have, the less we have to borrow, and therefore, the more comfortably we’ll be able to afford the new place, especially given I’ll be reducing my work hours to start with.

Are we deserving?

I don’t know.

It feels silly to ask for help with a mortgage. But, at the same time, this is more than just a house to me. This is a life. And it’s a life I’ll share the spoils of.

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