The government is worthless, the arts don’t matter and our neighbors don’t care, we’re told. We’re not buying it.

Commentary: Small kindnesses = big changes
Carl Shortt

Cheers The world is going to hell, they say. The youth of our country are self-absorbed, they lament. The government is worthless, the arts don’t matter and our neighbors don’t care, we’re told.

We’re not buying it.

Sure, in today’s information-obsessed world, it’s easy to get caught up in the drama. Our Twitter and Facebook feeds are filled with passive-aggressive status updates, humble bragging and rants about bad experiences with businesses. In addition to this daily barrage of negativity, we are constantly exposed to images of terror and messages of fear in the media.

But there is also a lot of good happening around us.

Here in Oklahoma, we’ve recently seen job growth, prosperity and a positive social swell that’s transforming our communities like never before. New local organizations are springing up to tackle the challenges facing our citizens. Businesses are rallying together to promote social well-being, and ordinary people — our neighbors, our friends — are giving at unprecedented levels.

According to the Oklahoma Alliance for Nonprofits, in 2010, the 19,000 non-profits in our state accounted for $12 billion in revenue, and you can’t say it’s all for the tax write-off.

It’s because Oklahomans take care of each other.

We call our legislators to ensure public funding for the arts. We give our hard-earned dollars to artists, musicians, filmmakers, activists and community action agencies. We make our voices heard at city council, donate to disaster relief and create events, public art and attractions that add to the quality of life here in our state.

And we can do more.

During this season of gratitude and giving, we have an even greater opportunity to change lives and make our communities better. Your wallet and your time are tools that will ensure continued prosperity during your lifetime and beyond. Donate funds to or volunteer your time with a nonprofit whose mission touches your heart. It doesn’t have to be the biggest, most well-known organization. In fact, smaller organizations sometimes need the most help.

Another way to make an immediate impact on the community is to shop local. We have hundreds of independent businesses that would love to see you walk through their doors. Their products are often made by local artists and makers who put genuine care and craftsmanship into the goods they produce. Plus, more of the dollars you spend at local businesses stay right here in our community and to continue to do further good. Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is the perfect time to shop local and pick up handmade gifts.

Finally, I encourage everyone to consider those who are less fortunate this holiday season. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hubbub of shopping, parties and presents, but small acts of kindness can spark big changes. Adopt a family, donate a coat or simply make a small gesture that will put a smile on someone’s face. These are gifts that keep giving and the memories that last.

So, as the holiday season draws near, remember to support all things local, make a difference in at least one person’s life and keep furthering the positive changes we are seeing in Oklahoma.

Josh DeLozier is the director of marketing and communications at NewView Oklahoma, a nonprofit the empowers blind and vision impaired Oklahomans to achieve their maximum potential.

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