As long as charity begins somewhere

Stuffing the last of my sweaty clothes into my bag, the peace and tranquility of my “killer” 90-minute chest/ abs workout was instantly shattered by the sound of the blowhard holding court in the far corner of the locker room. A real “mook,” as we would call him in my family.

“What about all the [expletive] poor people in the Bronx?” the family-sized box of Twinkies with legs barked at his friends, recounting the simply heroic tale of his encounter earlier that day with the naive kid from Save the Children. “You should come uptown if you want to save somebody.”

“You ever do any volunteer work?” one of his friends asked.

“Nah—I ain’t got no time for that [expletive].”

As this issue went to press, it was two weeks since Magalie Normil received her official U.S. citizenship. Magalie works as a public policy coordinator for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and she was born in Haiti. She returned to Haiti for the first time in June as part of a health mission funded by her family’s church in Nashville.

“We always felt like when we did go back to Haiti, there would be something to go back to,” she recalled in a 13-minute audio journal of her trip, in which she helped distribute relief packages of food, medical supplies and other essential items donated by NACDS member companies.

Separately, the NACDS Foundation donated a total of $150,000 to the relief effort. NACDS Foundation president Edith Rosato and manager of foundation programs and education Jennifer Sargeant accompanied a team from Convoy of Hope—one of three organizations the foundation selected to receive the funds—helping deliver aid throughout the region. “This will not take three months or six months,” Rosato told the interviewer in a brief video filmed by Convoy of Hope, “it will take many years to rebuild Haiti.”

“You hear it on the news—you see the photos of it…and you really have no idea,” Sergeant said. “What you’re seeing are the ‘things.’ When you’re here you see the people.”

It’s OK if you believe charity begins at home—so long as you believe it begins somewhere. Because in this big, scary world, where the ground literally can open up and swallow everything you ever loved and everything you ever had, each of us has a responsibility to something beyond just ourselves. That’s something I was lucky enough to learn at St. Francis Xavier High School. It’s nice to be a part of an industry where the people in it believe that’s true.

As for the mook in the locker room, I’m reminded of another Xavier lesson: Any idiot can buy a gym membership; you can’t buy class.

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