Not everyone has $1,160 in a kitchen cabinet waiting to be found and then donated to a charitable cause.

Thankfully, you don’t need to be lucky like Carey Burkhard to be charitable this holiday season. He found money left in his Janesville home by its previous owner. Instead of pocketing it, Burkhard was inspired to donate the cash to the Good Samaritan Fund, which provides food baskets to those in need.

Burkhard did what felt best to him. He listened to his inner charitable self, his giving spirit.

This spirit moves people in different ways. Whether you give money, cans of food or your time, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you listen to this spirit.

Whatever you do, don’t ignore it.

Many people volunteer their time at community organizations, and The Gazette has reported on and photographed many community meals through the years. These high-profile events attract many volunteers, but they might not be for you.

Your giving spirit might take you across the street to visit an elderly neighbor who’s feeling lonely. Maybe you bring that person a meal or a gift to show you’re thinking about him or her. Maybe you extend an invitation to your holiday celebration.

Or, maybe your giving spirit compels you to volunteer at an elementary school or after-school organization. Maybe you’re meant to give your time to engage kids who aren’t getting adequate attention at home.

Your giving spirit might extend to your own children, and we’re not talking about their presents under the Christmas tree. You can help your children experience gratitude by helping them appreciate all that they have.

Take your kids on a shopping trip to pick up everyday items, such as shampoo and toothpaste, which tend to be taken for granted. Explain to them that some people live without these items and need help. Then drop off the items at the Hedberg Public Library, Janesville City Hall or another city facility. This time of year, the city collects donations to distribute to local charities.

Donating household supplies might seem insignificant, but it’s important for the people who receive them.

There’s no rule for giving during the holiday season. The Gazette’s online poll last week inquired about people’s reactions to encountering the Salvation Army’s red kettles, and many people indicated they donate “as much as they can.” But a sizable number indicated they felt guilty about not donating more.

There’s no need to feel guilty about the size of your donation to a particular organization. And you don’t need to find a large wad of cash in your kitchen cabinet to make a big difference.

Giving is not a competition.

It’s a spirit, and we’re all empowered to follow it.

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