Research suggests people who donate to charity feel happier and enjoy better overall health than those who don’t. I’m not exactly sure how that works on a physiologically level, but I do believe we have a responsibility to help those less fortunate than ourselves. On a grand scale, donating books is probably less impactful than, say, volunteering in a soup kitchen. Still, I believe it creates an opportunity to enjoy some good karma down the road.
And so yesterday after work I drove to the Salvation Army on South MacDill Avenue in the Palma Ceia neighborhood of South Tampa to donate some books. Easing my car up to the curb, I saw a large moving van with the slogan “Doing the most good” emblazoned on its side. I don’t think their claim is overstated: in 2013 alone, the Salvation Army provided some kind of assistance to more than 30 million people.
Lugging my box of old chestnuts into the store and passing them off to a man cloaked in his signature red vest took less than a minute. There were maybe 20 books in all, and upon leaving the store I was struck by the fear that I’d just tossed my precious pearls into a chasm of charitable nothingness. How will I know if my meager contribution will be of value? Will my books just collect dust on the shelf? And exactly how is a book supposed to help someone in need?
And then it hit me: a book may not be a hot meal or a warm coat or a roof over someone’s head, but placed in just the right hands, a book can save a life.
Here’s to the unknown stranger whose burden is lessened, if even for a moment, by the pages contained therein.