During the Summer of 1975 when I was a Junior at Texas A&M University, I pledged a Greek organization called Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity (hereafter, “APO”). When my friends asked me the difference between APO and other Greek fraternities and sororities, I explained it thusly:
Fraternities and sororities spend 80% of their time partying. APO spends 80% of its time helping others.
From August 1973 to June 1975, I was without my wise old grandmother. She was in Kingsville, Texas, and I was 300 miles away at Texas A&M. APO came into my life and continued to remind me, through today, that there is, indeed, always someone worse off than me.
My wise old grandother had always told me, “There is always someone worse off than you are.” She usually said that as I was complaining about pruning the oleanders, mowing the lawn, hanging the laundry, washing the dishes, cleaning my room………. APO continues in me with the words of my wise old grandmother.
So today, for those who love charities and real pumpkins, here’s what I want you to do. Yes, this involves planning and work, but it’s always fun. And I have some work music for you, too:
Before you do anything else, pick a number from 1 to 100. Write it down.
Now, since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and October 31 is Halloween, take the family out to the pumpkin patch and get a real pumpkin, one that has seeds inside. Take the pumpkin home, cut off the top so you can get to the insides, and get all those seeds out of there. Young children often like this part of our project because they get to get all yukky and oogy.
Take the seeds, separate them from the rest of the pumpkin guts, wash the seeds, and set them aside to dry. Continue cleaning out your pumpkin and carving a face into it for use on the front porch for the next few days.
When the seeds have dried, count them! Write down the number of seeds. I usually get about 300 seeds out of my pumpkins, which are average size. Small pumpkins will have fewer seeds, and those really really really really big pumpkins will have more.
Once you have counted the seeds, roast them! They make great snacks, have lots of good fiber, and your children will be bragging to the neighborhood, “We roasted our pumpkin seeds to eat! I have some here. Do you want one?”
Here’s a good pumpkin seed recipe: Roasted pumpkin seeds.
Okay, remember those two numbers we wrote down? Take the first number, that between 1 and 100, and multiple it by the second number, the number of seeds, to get a final number. For example, if you chose 25 and had 300 seeds, your final number would be 7,500. Drop the two zeroes, and you have 75.
Now I want you to write a check to your favorite charity, or to a cancer charity in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for $75. If $75 is too much for you right now, that’s okay. Write a check for whatever amount you can. As we have seen in President Obama’s grassroots money-raising, every little bit helps.
Remember that your donation is often tax-deductible, so in addition to helping people who are less fortunate than you, you just lowered your taxes!
I donate to various charities on a quarterly basis, and since September is the end of the third quarter, I use pumpkin event to donate to cancer organizations during October. I also never complain about how the government spends its money, for two reasons:
Once I give my money to the government, it is no longer my money. It’s the government’s money.
The government rarely gets much money from me because I’m not from the rich 1% and I use deductions to lower my tax burden. I figure I can do a better job of spending my money than the government can do spending its money.
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