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‘The purpose of life is not to be happy — but to matter’

November 19, 2018

“Act as if what you do makes a difference,” wrote the philosopher William James. “It does.”

James’ exhortation is especially apt as we enter the holiday season and prepare to welcome loved ones with food and gifts. At this time of celebration, it’s useful to remember how much those around us depend on our generosity.

Few are as deserving of charity as the organizations and volunteers profiled in today’s San Antonio Gives section and in the Metro section throughout the holiday season. Collectively, they serve as a bulwark against hunger, illness and isolation for thousands of people.

Living in the world’s wealthiest country, it can be easy to forget that the blessings of affluence are not evenly distributed. The nonprofits highlighted in these stories offer a range of vital services — counseling for bereaved children, hot meals for the homebound, emergency food and shelter for families, literacy classes, medical care and much more. For many of our neighbors, they make a vital difference every day.

These groups are a steadying presence in our communities. They offer safe places for children to play and learn. They are a second home for the elderly seeking companionship and recreation. They are a place where adults with special needs can learn life skills, create art and make music.

Many organizations serve society in other ways: by safeguarding the environment, maintaining areas of natural beauty, building homes, caring for abandoned or neglected animals, promoting nutrition and exercise, raising money for medical research.

The worthy causes they promote are too numerous to list here. The only constant is the spirit of generosity that sustains them. Giving can take many forms. Donations of time, money and talent are all needed and welcomed.

If this section didn’t spotlight an organization that matches your interests, visit the United Way website (unitedwaysatx.org) to find other opportunities to give.

As you prepare for the holidays, bear in mind this bit of wisdom from the humorist Leo Rosten: “The purpose of life is not to be happy — but to matter.”

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