I've often heard people say that someone's "true" nature is revealed during difficult times. And that humanity's "true" nature is actually animalistic, primitive and selfish.

I have to tell you, I have my doubts.

$78,773,343: that's how much money Chicago's Jewish community raised in JUF's recently-concluded 2011 Annual Campaign.

It's been several years since the economy bottomed out in 2008, and our country is still facing significant challenges. Unemployment is high, job security is low. Families that were once middle and upper-middle class, who once donated money to charities, now find themselves in need of a helping hand.

And yet, not only did this community raise millions of dollars to continue funding the agencies that people rely on for meals, job services, rent money and other services, but it raised over $168,000 more than in 2010's campaign.

Times are tough, and yet people continue to give so that others don't have to lose their homes, put their children to bed on an empty stomach or worry about paying that month's rent. Some people may not give as much as they could in better times, but they still give what they can so that others can bear a slightly- less-heavy burden.

Not only do people give money, but some volunteer their time and professional services. I recently did a story on laid-off lawyer Harold Meerbaum (read the story here) who has been taking on cases through JUF's Legal Community Services.

The point is, it is definitely more challenging to donate when times are difficult. But one way or another, we can still give something to help someone else. Seeing the good in others only inspires me to do more good myself.

Karina Grudnikov
Join Karina Grudnikov as she explores life in Chicago’s Jewish community.... Read More

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