Must Love Dogs...Or Cheez Whiz.

I’m going to be honest for a minute; I don’t get gushy when I look at cute dogs. I just don’t. I’ve honestly given it a try too, and I just don’t get it. Not that I’m a cat man or anything, I just don’t get all warm and gooey when something “cute” is put in front of me.

And that’s alright, ‘cause this blog isn’t about me. It’s about a little girl who I’ve never met but I know is on track to do good for those around her. And it all started with a dog.

During last year’s campaign you may have seen one of our posters of a dog wearing pilot goggles with the word ‘engage’ written boldly beside it and our 10 Ways to Unite Community listed on the right. It’s a simple concept, but one that proved very popular (people love animals, what can we say?).

The other morning I received an email from a mother who told me her three-year-old daughter loved this dog poster and she was using it as a trigger to start conversations about giving to others and what that means.

Now, I don’t remember what I was doing at three, but I most certainly wasn’t learning about the fundamentals of sharing. I was probably pretty good at the taking part, giving was something I learned later. So hats off to this little girl’s parents for recognizing it’s never too early to learn something as important as giving to others.

It got me thinking though, “What was the earliest memory I have of giving?”

If I dig back in the recesses of my subconscious, I think the earliest memory I can recall is during Kindergarten at Lorelie School. We were having snack time, which was right after nap time (why did I ever leave Kindergarten, anyway?) and I had brought celery sticks with Cheez Whiz on them. There was another boy who didn’t have a snack from home and he was playing with a toy instead. I looked down at my celery sticks, of which there were two, and up at the boy. I probably did that a few times before realizing there were two boys and two celery sticks. In addition to completing my first mental math calculation, I also discovered the perfect symmetry of sharing. At that time, I didn’t think of it as losing a celery stick, I thought of it as filling a space. He didn’t have a snack, I had two, if he had one, we’d both have snacks. Nothing else factored into it.

When I think about what factors weigh in my decisions to give as an adult, I’m suddenly aware of how much more complex they’ve become. There are many options, many benefits, and many different impacts our choices will have on our lives and on our community.

But there are some things that haven’t changed – giving fills a space and symmetry is beautiful.

What’s your first memory of giving? How does it compare to the way you give now?

Jeremy Bibaud is Manager of New Media for United Way of the Alberta Capital Region.