The tradition of Charity Week is a beautiful example of selfless giving combined with endless fun. However, while many students have no problem pitching in a dollar to get out of class, this generosity towards giving seems to last for the length of Charity Week — and not much longer.
When it comes to donating, whether through tithing or giving to other charitable institutions, college students are not doing enough of it.
Often, my first thought when I tithe in church is: “I can’t donate any money. I’m in college! I’m broke!” And while this is true — I am in college and I am indeed broke — giving isn’t about how much we’re giving as much as it is about the fact that we’re giving anything at all.
“There’s often a long line at the Cap Bar, and people seem to be able to purchase beer at the PDK,” said Father Joseph Paul Albin when asked about donating among students.
“I’m not expecting anyone to go hungry for the sake of charitable giving, but there’s something about giving that is necessarily christian, that is historically related to the tradition. Giving, even if you only have a small amount, is well worth it.”
Like the widow with her two coins, we are called to relinquish what we can and to trust in God to provide the rest. Donating, even just a little per week, allows us to offer up to God what he’s chosen to bless us with.
Without that, it’s easy to fall into the trap of valuing our bank accounts over the graces of God. The money we make isn’t our own. I seem to forget that often.
As Fr. Albin said, “There’s a way in which everything we have is a gift, and if we forget that everything we have is gifts, then we begin to claim it as our own. When we tithe, we remember that the mission of the church is much bigger than us. It also reminds us that we are not simply our bank accounts.”
One student, freshman Thérèse Castillo, describes what called her towards donating and the way in which she does so. “I really felt called to donate to either a crisis pregnancy center or Catholic Charities, with everything happening with the heartbeat bill,” said Castillo.
“I felt like the next step in the pro-life movement for me was trying to donate. I set up my account with the Catholic Charities of Dallas. It’s a small amount that I’m able to contribute but I know that it’s going towards diapers, and classes for parents.”
Even so, many of us still find ourselves in positions where we can’t easily donate money. In that case, it doesn’t excuse us from donating entirely, but instead is God calling us to make donations of a different kind.
“The mission of the Church is something that you participate in both spiritually but also with your first fruits, be they time, treasure or talent,” said Fr. Albin. “If you’re not giving now because you ‘don’t have anything,’ when do you have enough for Jesus?”
Other than donating financially, many students find ways to give their time and talents instead. Mackenzie Kannapel describes the ways in which she donates her time to others. “A lot of the ways that I give is through my time,” said Kannapel. “I’m not always financially giving, but I try and volunteer when I can. I know that if I give my first fruits to the people around me, that’s just as significant.”
As college students, it’s easy to dismiss donating and tithing as something we can’t financially afford. College is expensive, no doubt, but it’s not an excuse for selfishness over charity.
We are called to lives of giving, and we need to recognize the ways we can do that in our everyday lives. Donating should not be limited to Charity Week. Whether it’s through our time, talent or treasures, nothing that we’re able to offer God is too small in His eyes.