October 31, 2014
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Digging deep for a cause

Few people really enjoy fundraising.

It’s understandable. Who in these times feels comfortable asking total strangers, no less their friends and family members, to hand over money to a cause they know little about and doesn’t directly affect them?

Yet it happens all the time; whether to help someone in a personal fight against cancer, to preserve open spaces or the bay, to guard the Constitution, help veterans, feed the hungry, build housing for the homeless and aid children everywhere. And that’s just a smattering of the thousands of causes seeking support.

All sorts of activities have become means of raising funds. There are golf tournaments, sailing regattas, dinners, 5K walks and runs, raffles, dances, read-a-thons [especially popular with elementary school students], swims, like that from Newport to Jamestown, and long distance bike-a-thons.

It all adds up to a lot of money.

According to a report based on tax returns by the Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, American individuals, corporations and foundations contributed $298.42 billion in 2011, a 4 percent increase from the $286.91 billion they gave the year before.

What inspires such philanthropy?

We think part of that answer can be found right here.

On Saturday, about 150 people raised close to $25,000 at the first ever Rhode Island Polar Dip at Oakland Beach. The event, put together in a few short weeks, was spearheaded by Christina and Becky Hendriques and their parents John and Carole.

The Hendriques didn’t go hat-in-hand from one friend to the next. In fact, the emphasis was not on handing over money but what those funds could do. The family has personally seen what Camp Sunshine means to families caring for a seriously ill child. At the camp’s Maine location, all immediate family members of a child up to the age of 18 enjoy a week of activities and board and lodging at no cost. The Hendriques’ daughters were first to volunteer at the camp and participate in the Polar Dips that raise about $90,000 annually. Their parents soon found themselves committed to the cause. Wanting to help and knowing your efforts can make a difference are surely motivators, and that feeling resonated with others who also wanted to be members of the team effort.

Saturday’s dip offered another perspective on the reasons for giving.

The Collins family also teamed up to raise funds. They know from personal experience what Camp Sunshine can do. Rhode Island media extensively covered Zachary Collins’ battle against neuroblastoma. Zachary, his parents and his siblings went to Camp Sunshine and, as the camp’s name implies, that visit energized and renewed family bonds and their outlook. Zachary did not win his fight with this brain cancer but that camp visit and their memories of it remain a bright episode in a long and dark ordeal.

For the Collins, the dip was a chance to give back.

And then there’s the matter of jumping into the water at the coldest time of year: How does that fit in? Isn’t it enough to open one’s wallet without the freezing? Obviously, many of those who pledged and let others jump in for them thought so. Those who took the dip could be considered daring, hardy or crazy. Maybe it takes all of those to take the plunge.

But for the committed, it’s not just money; it’s about demonstrating your commitment.


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