Marjory Kaplan is an alumna of the Wexner Heritage Program, San Diego 03.  She is the, CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation in San Diego.  Marjory can be reached at

Books have always been my mentors.  Reading Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, I was horrified by the stories of people trying to survive on minimum wage in this country.  Certainly we can all work to find systemic solutions to the widening gap between rich and poor.  But what else can we do?

We can draw a circle around our worlds and start giving.  How about leaving an extra $10 or $20 a day for the hotel maid?  I never miss those dollars and know how much food or clothing they can buy.  Do you know your office maintenance worker?  Ours has two jobs and three small children.  I leave thank you notes with extra cash in September (for school supplies), at Thanksgiving and other times.  Our staff loves buying holiday gifts for her family.

How about helping the truly invisible people?  The person who cleans the airport restroom?  The busboy you see racing from table to table? The valet who collects your car?  I’m amazed how many people still tip only a dollar after all these years.  Isn’t it time we all graduated to $5 or $10?  Most of these valets are kids working hard to get by at the local colleges.  Often they’ve been shivering in the cold waiting for us to finish our fancy dinners.

There are so many ways to give.  Not all of them are tax-deductible.  But all of them bless the giver more than the recipient.