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of RED RIVER VALLEY
|December 2004 Character Quality - Generosity
|the following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
Margaret Haughery rose early in the still dark hours of the morning. After a short breakfast of
a roll and some milk, she made her way to her small but very serviceable bakery. There she
remained, until late in the morning when she emerged and began her bread route. Her
customers included large families with many children, the elderly whom everyone else had
forgotten, workers who had not eaten because of lack of money, and orphanages and other
charities. Who was this young, generous women of the latter years of the 1830’s and early
Margaret’s parents died when she was only eight years of age, immediately following their
immigration from Ireland to America. She grew up in poverty and never was able to receive an
education. At the age of 21, she married, and the young couple moved to New Orleans. After
many series of events in which both her husband and young child died, Margaret became a
laundress for the fancy St. Charles Hotel. Seeing the poor, the sick, and the orphaned out her
window everyday, she longed to show compassion to these people, and soon opened a milk
shop for them. Over the course of her lifetime, Margaret gave with a heart of compassion to
countless peoples – whom she supported with her own very meager income. Margaret
Haughery did not look back on previous hardships that she endured, but used what she had to
benefit the lives of others.
This is generosity. It is carefully managing our resources so that we can freely give to those in
need. Generosity follows the laws of the harvest; the more we sow, the more we reap. John
Bunyan once said, “A man there was, and they called him mad; the more he gave, the more he
had.” Generosity must be balanced with caution and deference. It is important – it builds
people and friendships as well as brings satisfaction and motivates efficient management.
When we are being generous, we may only see the one person whom we are giving to.
However, because of our giving, others are influenced to give, and we may be touching many
people by just being helpful to one.
Take the pelican, for example. They not only care for their own mate and young, they take
care of the sickly and lame as well. While one mate is out of the nest, the other will remain with
the young until the return of its mate, no matter how hungry it is. Then they will ensure that all
the others have been fed before it feeds itself. Purely selfless are these birds. They will also be
generous to their enemies; repaying evil for good even when they are attacked.
In this season of giving and sharing, let it not be a once a year project. Our neighbors and
friends may need help, so let us be generous all year round. Here are a few ways to help us to
be generous: Share what we have with others; not allow the greatness of the needs to distract
us from starting to meet those closest at hand; give of our time and talents, not expect anything
in return for our good deeds, and praise the good we see in others. Take care not to “over-
promise”, and always accomplish what you have promised to do.
Sir Winston Churchill once declared that “We make a living by what we get, and we make a life
by what we give.” Remember that generosity begins with the seeds of faith, increases with the
trials of hope, and blossoms with the fruit of genuine love. So this season and always, let us
give openly, lovingly, and with joy in our hearts.
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! materials. Visit the Character Council of Red
River Valley at www.character-paris.org. For more information about the Character First! program and
resources contact: Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73102, (405) 815-0001