Giving Back

by Britta-Lis on December 4, 2010

in European Adventure,Food For Thought,The Cookbook Project

Because this is the season for giving, I have been thinking about ways that I can use this platform to give back to the world, for what it has given me. Indeed, this cookbook would not have come about had I not had the opportunity to explore and experience the world, or at least part of it, last year.

Because I also believe in tithing—giving away a portion of your income or your wealth, often to your church but just as often to charity—I’ve been thinking that I’d like to tithe a percentage of the profits of The Traveler’s Cookbook. I’ve been a nomad of sorts for the last few years, and do not have a home church where I would be giving my tithe, so I’ve decided to donate 10% of the profits to charity.

Heifer InternationalAlso, because The Traveler’s Cookbook is really all about food, I thought that whichever way I chose to give back must also have something to do with food—namely, helping those who do not have enough of it, preferably in a sustainable and responsible way. That led me to Heifer International, a charity dedicated to alleviating both hunger and poverty, usually both at once, in both the developing and the developed world.

It has become a growing trend in my family to donate, in the name of one or several other family members, the gift of a goat or other livestock through Heifer. The family that receives the livestock has milk to drink and surplus to sell, and will pass on the gift by donating that animal’s offspring to another family. I like the “Pay It Forward” idea behind the gifts, what Heifer calls “Passing on the Gift”, as well as the idea that it’s not just a giver-receiver relationship: The family that receives the gift will eventually become the givers, and so on, potentially and eventually benefiting a whole community.

In the German Alps

Standing in the German Alps, with Austria behind me

So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to donate 10% of the profits of The Traveler’s Cookbook, both of the e-book and print book sales, to Heifer International. With the proceeds, each month I will either donate to a Heifer project, or donate the full amount or partial shares required to buy a goat or heifer for a family in need.

My own personal tithe will come after this: I will round up my income for the year—minus the 10% I’ve already donated—and then tithe a tenth of that amount. Perhaps to Heifer, but there are thousands of worthy charities out there that could use my help. It would be nice to be able to give to them all.

While I was searching for a project to sponsor or a charity to give to, I got very emotional. Not necessarily over the amount of need that was out there, but more over the fact that I couldn’t really contribute very much. I wished I had more to give. It was surprising, because I am often conflicted over tithing: I know it’s something I should do, morally and ethically, but I’m often broke and on a budget, and I wish to spend my precious pennies on myself, rather than someone else. Recently, however, I have been thinking about tithing and, in particular, the parable Jesus told about the woman who put only two coins into the offering box. Jesus was moved, saying, “She gave all she had.” (Luke 21:1-4)

Being broke and on a budget was fortunately not the case during the year I spent in Europe, and I am wholeheartedly grateful and still overwhelmed by the inheritance I received from my Grandma. In fact, it was refreshing to live without really having to worry about money—sure, I budgeted, but I didn’t worry so much, and it became apparent that money really is the source of a lot of my worries. I didn’t worry about not having enough in my account to pay the bills, didn’t worry about racking up debt on my credit cards, since I could pay them off right away, didn’t have to think about whether I could afford something or not (within reason, of course). However, I never tithed any of that inheritance, a fact over which I still feel guilty, and which will soon be changed.

To reference, and possibly misquote, another Jesus parable, I have realized that I am actually the prodigal son—or daughter, in this case. While I didn’t actually squander my inheritance completely, I did spend a fair amount of it with abandon in a very expensive part of the world, in a way that probably more than a few of my family members thought was irresponsible. Nevertheless, they welcomed me back with open arms. I am truly blessed, which is a fact I never lost sight of, even while I was squandering and spending. (Luke 15:11-32)

So, to sum things up: To give back to the places that have welcomed (or will someday welcome) me, and to be morally and spiritually responsible, I will donate 10% of the profits of The Traveler’s Cookbook to Heifer International, to support a project or give a gift of livestock to a community in need. My own personal tithe will come after the donations have been made, and will be made either to Heifer or another worthy charity. You’ve heard me, now hold me accountable. I’ll post when and how much I was able to donate.

Help support Heifer International! Buy the cookbook now, or visit Heifer’s site to donate.

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