By Jake Malooley, Time Out Chicago
The other day, Carlo Garcia read a quote from South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu that seemed the perfect summation of the last nine months of his life: "Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." Since April 22, Garcia has been making small monetary donations—from $5 to $30—to a different charity each day, cataloging every give on his blog, Living Philanthropic (livingphilanthropic.tumblr.com).
The project was sparked as Garcia struggled to raise funds for the Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company, where he is producing director. The 28-year-old South Side native decided to become an example of the would-be benefactor he wanted to encounter.
"I had to take a look at my finances, see what miscellaneous expenditures I could cut out to free up money to give back," he says. The clotheshorse gave up buying new threads and his daily Starbucks habit. "Look hard enough," Garcia says, "and we all can find a little bit to give." Closing in on day 250 of 365, the Lincoln Square resident and TicketWeb employee has raised more than $2,600 for education programs, health-care institutions and other charities. The show Garcia's directing through Sunday 19 at Angel Island, Toronto, Mississippi, has also been included in the Living Philanthropic mission; he donates $1 for every ticket sold to the Marklund Children's Home, a center for the developmentally disabled in the Western Suburbs where he volunteered in high school.
Garcia says he's found new purpose in life. At the end of the month, he leaves for Mexico to help build a school with Foundation Escalera, one of the orgs he researched and gave to along the way. Ironically, he's asking for donations to cover the $1,000 registration fee. (At press time, he had raised $230.)
An unforeseen side effect of Living Philanthropic, Garcia says, has been the people inspired to join in with more than $3,500 in contributions. If you're likewise motivated, Garcia recommends a few of his favorite local organizations worthy of your hard-earned dough.
Literacy Works (litworks.org)
Garcia says "Did you know a half million adults in Chicago can't read or write? Literacy Works' mission is to help Chicago adults and families acquire these basic abilities."
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (chicagohomeless.org)
Garcia says "As unemployment rates rise, so does the number of people who become homeless. For the past 30 years, CCH has been advocating and working to fight homelessness by calling for affordable housing and livable wages."
Off the Street Club (otsc.org)
Garcia says "With all the violence and gang activity in Chicago, organizations that provide a safe haven and give guidance to inner-city youth are more important than ever. OTSC is hard at work providing a plethora of programs for kids in West Garfield Park to keep them safe from the violence."
Greater Chicago Food Depository (chicagosfoodbank.org)
Garcia says "Each week, an estimated 142,400 men, women and children receive emergency food assistance from a food pantry, soup kitchen or other agency served by the Greater Chicago Food Depository."
Chicago Cares (chicagocares.org)
Garcia says "If you can't give financially, consider donating your time. Chicago Cares is an awesome organization that matches up volunteers with nonprofits in need of a hand."