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I have always been a proponent of giving back to those in need. I have collected donations for countless causes and tried to give of my time and money whenever I could, but until recently I’d never attended a major fundraising event. I felt it was time to be a part of something larger.

My son lives in Los Angeles and works for a philanthropic boss who has been giving back to his community through the contacts he has met over his many years in the music business. So we decided to donate to the From Hollywood With Love concert to benefit the Midnight Mission in Los Angeles.

California has a huge homeless population and has a very organized way of getting people back on their feet through rehabilitation and retooling skills. The mission feeds, clothes and employs thousands of people every year. More than 30 performers donated their time and efforts by holding a four-hour concert that could be attended through a donation to the mission. Not only were the performers excellent, but the message was heartfelt. Previously homeless people stood up to speak of how easy it is to become homeless and the dangers of living on the street.

It’s easy to forget about all of the needy people in our country when we are comfortable and secure in our own homes and jobs. There is a fine line between living comfortably and losing a job and the security that comes with it. It can be lost in an instant. Many Americans live one paycheck away from becoming homeless, and this benefit of talented performers brought that fact home clearly.

As we enjoyed the music, we felt very fortunate and thankful that we were able to attend and donate money to this worthwhile event. There are so many people who fall victim to circumstances beyond their control. It seems that the homeless situation only increases nationwide as our economy struggles to stay afloat.

As we sit in our comfortable homes, we need to realize how many unfortunate people are struggling to survive, and try to make a difference and pay it forward. We felt a great sense of satisfaction as we left the event and are anxious to find more ways to give back in the future.

Those individuals who have so much need to evaluate their priorities. If everyone in some small way decided to give of his time and money, we could make a dent in our homeless situation.

Many influential individuals choose to devote their efforts and monetary support to other countries in need. How about looking at our neighbors here in the United States? Each of our 50 states has a sizable number of people who are living in shelters or on the streets. There are many hungry and needy people right under our noses. Why reach out to other countries when our own people are in desperate need? It gives us food for thought. Giving to others, even if only in small amounts of time or money, can make a huge difference if we all make the effort.

Attending this benefit concert has made me much more aware of the problems plaguing our country. I see it every day working downtown, because our office is only a few blocks away from the Buffalo City Mission. At any given time, we are witness to the homeless and needy on our city’s streets.

We all need to take a step back and realize just how much we have and how lucky we are. There but for the grace of God, go we, the lucky ones.