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March 11, 2008


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I like what you wrote very much. Last year my husband and I wanted to start a foundation doing EXACTLY WHAT YOU DO (but didn't know you already did it!! ). We gave Modest Needs Gift Certs for the holidays and we pledge to you monthly. And thanks for the reminder about spending our points that I admit are sitting there for lack of attention. I'll add that to my regular agenda now.

Back to your BIG GIVE thoughts -- I think in the context of the TV show -- Oprah is doing an amazing thing -- and what the show does for ME is reminding me how good it feels to give and while I'm expanding my new Prayer Project -- it helps me expand my consciousness -- to think bigger thoughts to help BIGGER . . . not because any thought is too small -- but because I want to help the world AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE in the BIGGEST WAY I CAN.

Also -- I think you are AWESOME! When my husband and I discovered we didn't have to start our foundation because you were already doing it AND WELL and with BIGGER BETTER ideas than we had to start -- we were thrilled and still are! Thanks a million. Steph

I've watched the show once. I do want to counter one of your points. It talks about giving big with someone else's money- this is the case for some of the contestants and what they are doing BUT it also showed several contestants going out and finding ways to give, like seeking out donations (as does Modest Needs), asking companies to donate services or write off debts.

I think it IS teaching that anyone can "Give Big" without having big money to give, but by giving time and effort, they can create big changes in the lives of others. Oh, and one other thing. That million dollar prize is supposed to be 'a surprise.'

I have been very conflicted about the show. I just hate the idea of people being judged on how well they give and to whom they give. I think my uneasy feelings also have something to do with the judges. Are they people that gave before they had big money?

It seems as if this whole "game" scenario takes something out of the good intentions. If only people weren't voted off. But then I have to ask myself if intentions matter as much as results.

I think that the show does give people opportunity to do something good for others. And I loved the giving away of the cars. A car is a gift that really aids self-sufficiency. Plus, the contestant stated that a car had been gifted to her previously so it is something that is realistic, although not for most.

While it's not the way that I would have done it, it's better than not doing anything.

I love Oprah and have for years for all kinds of reasons.

She's transformed an entire medium, and done much to educate, inspire and uplift over the years.

And sadly, I suspect this was a bit of a well-intentioned mis-fire because I find your points are entirely true and very well made.

On the whole - Oprah does a far better job than most to positively influence and teach, but the whole 'BIG' thing is hugely disorienting in our culture.

In so many ways, we're all convinced that if it ain't big, it won't matter or make a difference. And if that were really true, a tiny little woman called Mother Teresa who made tiny little differences in the lives of the 'untouchable' wouldn't have gotten the world's notice or respect.

Thanks for pointing out the faulty thinking too easily lost in big hype - and for once again being a voice for 'small' genuine gestures of big courage and enormous generousity.

Far as I can tell, that's where true bigness really lives.

I will confess I have never watched the show. To be honest, I dislike all "reality" TV, because experience has taught me that precious few people are real in front of a camera - particularly when that camera is beaming their image into millions of homes. So I'll withhold judgment on the grounds that I'm not qualified to comment.

However, as a recipient of a Modest Needs grant in 2005 I feel I am qualified to comment on my own situation.

Modest Needs members paid for the medication that saved my pregancy - and therefore my daughter's life. You cannot give a bigger or better gift, and you cannot put a price tag on it.

The most beautiful, humbling, and uplifting thing of all is that this gift was given quietly, virtually anonymously, by a wonderful group of people who sought only to help, without needing public accolades for doing so. To present a check with fanfare and a spotlight is fine. To present it in a plain white envelope, with no hoopla and no expectation of reward, is humanity at its finest.

If people are being helped by the modern day bread and circuses, so be it. But the real story - and the one I'd love to see told - is the story of Modest Needs. The story that is being written day by day, dollar by dollar, by a cast who desire nothing more than to give of themselves, with compassion, dignity and love.

Would it make great TV? By today's standards, probably not. But it has made a beautiful addition to my family - and thanks to Modest Needs, she's about to celebrate her third birthday!!!

It's all about making a difference that is the point indeed and everyone is capable to make a difference by whatever means they are capable of and in whatever way it is needed. So if "The Big Give" is acomplishing that, all the power to it and with good hearted people in Modest Needs giving to help someone solve a genuine problem that will make a difference in their lives...again all the power to it...The main message I feel overall whether TV or not is, it is time for people at large to step up and help in whatever way it is appropriate and we all win.

wow, very insightful. This is my first exposure to Modest Needs, but I am very impressed. I am going over to the site to learn more. I agree with you.

You kinda sound like a sane voice in the world of charity. With the economy like it is, clearly even the little things can do a lot.~

I really enjoyed reading your blog. My daughter, who is a Junior at ASU/Tempe is majoring in non-profit management. When I tell people what her major is, you would be surprised by the looks and statements I receive. I am proud of her. Her father's family are all in business, making lots of money, and to tell you the truth, no very honest people. She doesn't want to be like them. Her best quote she uses is from Tom Brokaw "It's easy to make a buck, but it's a lot harder to make a difference". Oprah's Big Give, I couldn't watch it. I felt the same way as you. This past Christmas I saw a homeless man standing on the corner with a sign asking for money. We were waiting for the light to change and I just couldn't believe how people ignored him. I gave him a $5.00 bill, which I honestly could not afford to do but I felt for this man. The way he grabbed my hand, and thanked me, I felt as if I gave him $100.00. I will also give spare change to someone who is asking for a hand out on the street, my sister once screamed at me "you don't have any money, why are you giving away your change?" The gratitude these people show for just a small amount of money. It is a good feeling to give. No matter how small. God bless the woman who sends you $1.00 each month. Thank you for your uplifting blog. May God bless you, over and over again.

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