Chari-Tea: Raise a Cup to Philanthropy

Chari-Tea events only cost me the price of the lemons, honey, and gas for the car to pick up the canisters. I had a vision and I made it happen, and all it cost was time. Time is invaluable. Give your time and let's all spread our own form of chari-tea.
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Photo Credit: Philip H. Benson

As the creator of a charity television show and philanthropy expert, I always maintain that you don't have to be a millionaire to be a philanthropist. I advise EVERYONE to use resources available to them, their talents, and their gifts, to give back. There are so many ways to do so and I'm happy to share a recent way I used mine. It didn't cost me anything other than time, and it made a difference for hundreds of individuals in need of help and encouragement around the city.

It started on the first really cold day here in New York City, the day that the temperatures plummeted well below freezing. I was hurrying home, when I passed a young girl huddled on the corner. My heart sank, and I hurried to find a dollar in my wallet. As I dropped it in the paper cup, she coughed and I suddenly had a memory of my grandmother making me hot tea with honey and lemon when I was sick.

I asked the young girl, if I could please get her a tea. She gratefully said yes, and I hurried to get her a tea. I gave her a bagel and some fruit as well. She had tears in her eyes and thanked me numerous times.

I walked away thinking, "I wish I could walk down the street and just give away hot tea to everyone who needs it."

Then I had an epiphany - I could do just that!

I've been an event manager for years, often managing charity events and marketing promotions. I remembered that one of my favorite companies for which I worked, The Michael-Alan Group, had given coffee samples via canisters worn on one's back.
I approached the CEO of MAG. They were thrilled with the idea and quickly offered me the use of the canisters free of charge.

Next step- the hot tea! I knew I didn't have the resources to brew 6 gallons of tea, my little NYC kitchen just wouldn't do it. I reached out to a dear friend of mine named Ty at Fresh and Co. I was delighted when Fresh and Co. gladly offered the hot tea, and the manager of the store even emailed me before I could contact him, eager to help those less fortunate.

I had the tea and the containers, now I just needed some volunteers to help distribute the tea. I reached out to numerous friends, and two men that I have worked with for years, generously volunteered to help.

I wanted to use the time as efficiently as possible, so I reached out to a wonderful organization, One Sandwich At A Time, that makes thousands of sandwiches and gives them to the hungry in NYC. I explained to them what I wanted to do and asked their advice. They happily responded with a Mission that offers food every day in midtown, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. They said they would be giving out sandwiches and asked if we wanted to come there and hand out tea? PERFECT!

I would be lying if I didn't say that I anxiously counted down the days until we were set to give out the tea.

Success! We gave out 500 sandwiches and over 6.5 gallons of tea! People were so grateful, we quickly decided to repeat the whole event. CHARI-TEA was born!

PopChips then reached out and said they were interested in giving chips to people in need, and very nicely dropped off cases of chips at the Kitchen for us to give out.

Photo Credit: Philip H. Benson

We have since had 2 Chari-Tea events and are already planning on more events in the summer with much-needed cold beverages.

I share this experience to demonstrate we can all give back, just think outside the box. Maybe you don't know a wonderful company that will donate tea canisters, tea, cups, or chips, but think about those you do know and pick up the phone. Get friends together and start a fundraiser. Ask your fellow employees if they would like volunteer with you, or better yet, ask your company if they have a volunteer program in place. If they don't, create one.

We can all do something. We all have resources, talents, gifts, skills, and a voice. Use one or more of those to help others, and the impact is unlike anything you can imagine. If we all walked the talk, if we all thought about what we CAN to do help instead of why we can't, our chari-tea would overflow.

You don't need money to make a difference. Chari-Tea events only cost me the price of the lemons, honey, and gas for the car to pick up the canisters. I had a vision and I made it happen, and all it cost was time. Time is invaluable. Give your time and let's all spread our own form of chari-tea.

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