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The Value Of Giving

Monday, Dec. 12, 2011

The best student comment on "The Value Of Giving" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate.  Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, Jan. 8.  Finalists are selected by "likes," so click the Facebook icon above to let your friends know about The Big Q contest.

Jessica worked as a hostess all fall quarter in addition to taking a full load of classes. Although her parents and her scholarship cover her tuition, Jessica pays for her own books and uses the extra money from her job for personal expenses. But as the holidays approach, she decides to go to the mall and use some of that money to buy gifts for her friends and family.

Once she finished shopping, she notices that she has some extra money and no one to spend it on. Feeling she worked hard this last quarter, she decides to treat herself with a new blouse she had spotted earlier. However, as she heads back to the store, she runs into a man asking for donations for a homeless shelter. Jessica knows this extra money would be useful to the organization, but she worked hard over the quarter to earn it.

Should Jessica donate the money or use it for herself? 

 Here are some helpful resources and great charities for you to consider:

 A Framework for Ethical Decision Making

Kiva – Loans That Change Lives

Heifer International Charity

Grameen Foundation

Vittana – Education Changes Everything


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Photo by Bagunçêiro available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.

Comments Comments

mpwahl said on Dec 20, 2011
While Jessica has a hard decision ahead of her, I believe she should treat herself to a new blouse. It is a matter of what is worth more to you, the new blouse or the good feeling one gets from giving to the less fortunate. While Jessica's heart is in the right place, considering how torn she is with this decision, she has worked hard for that money and needs to somehow reward herself for the effort she has put forth. I would strongly encourage her on a later date to donate money to homeless shelters, as it is a worthy cause, but she also needs some form of reward to motivate her to continue working next quarter. - Like - 33 people like this.
Ryan Parry said on Jan 2, 2012
Jessica needs to remember that a college education is the long term benefit of the work she is doing. She should have the foresight to realize how blessed she is and the many opportunities she has. It would show great character if Jessica could give up the immediate satisfaction of getting a new blouse to create some of the same opportunities for someone who is not as blessed as she. - Like - 20 people like this.
Drew Walters said on Jan 4, 2012
Jessica has demonstrated hard work and diligence in her studies and job outside the classroom, and has shown selflessness by always thinking of others first. She bought gifts for her friends and family with the money she earned because it is the season of giving and time with those you love most. I believe treating herself to the new blouse is an acceptable thing to do, keeping in mind that she has been dedicated to school, her job, and her friends and family first and foremost. Although, I think Jessica could find an equal amount of satisfaction donating to the less fortunate because of her selfless nature. Jessica should choose what she wants, but I think she will find greater personal reward in donating and helping those in greater need. - Like - 22 people like this.
Matteo Rodriquez said on Jan 4, 2012
Because Jessica has bought gifts for all of her friends, it is likely that she will receive gifts from her friends and family. Perhaps she could put the blouse on a wish list. Even if she does not receive the blouse, she should still give some of the money to charity and save some for future expenses. - Like - 18 people like this.
Joel Engelmann said on Jan 4, 2012
I believe that Jessica should give the blouse to charity. If she is looking to treat herself to something to reward her hard work then she should give the money to charity because giving can be the most rewarding feeling. She should feel gifted already to have a job and be in school, so she should give to the less fortunate people. - Like - 19 people like this.
Mac Glass said on Jan 5, 2012
Jessica has obviously worked hard and her hard work will pay off soon. If she continues to applly herself she will soon have her own carrear and hopefully home and family. If she works as hard as she has been she will realize that in the future she will have money for herself and some to give to the needy. However for now, while in the giving Christmas spirit Jessica would make the right choice by donating the money. Although Jessica is working hard, she lives a stabble lifesytle and the money she gives could really helpout someone in need. - Like - 17 people like this.
Kevin Light said on Jan 5, 2012
Jessica has worked hard all quarter by taking on both a full class load and a career as a hostess. When she has finally earned enough money to spend outside of the realm of school she decides to be selfless and spend the money on gifts for friends and family. She has at least earned the right to buy the blouse for herself. Donating the money to the homeless shelter would be a generous and kind thing to do. However, Jessica earned the money for herself and should be able to spend it however she pleases. If her desires lead her to donating the money, so be it. She shouldn't be pressured by outside sources to spend the money in an particular way, it should be her choice and hers alone. - Like - 22 people like this.
George Montgomery said on Jan 6, 2012
I think that Jessica should use the money to buy a blouse for herself. She has worked hard for the money and the value that she will receive from wearing the blouse will bring much more happiness to her. although she could donate the money to charity, she needs to treat herself some of the time. - Like - 14 people like this.
Heather said on Jan 6, 2012
As the cliché goes Tis the season for giving, but what we ought to remember is this tis the season to worship at the altar of capitalism. December is about purchasing products, excessive indulgence, and forced family gatherings. At the heart of this holiday season in America is the assumption of White privilege and classism. Jessicas dilemma is a sad mockery of the difficult, actual ethical dilemmas people with less great opportunities face. Most average persons survive on their work budget. It does not and can not translate into frivolous blouse spending, work money is spent on rent, medical bills, electricity bills, food, transportation, car insurance, gas, and a little expenditure money. This question seems a pathetic joke to me. For Jessica to be able to even pose the question should I give money to this homeless shelter or buy myself a blouse requires her to live a fairly privileged life. We know her tuition is paid for by scholarships and her parents therefore she does not have to worry about finances at all! Jessica does commit herself to a hostess job for buying books but also for excess cash. The key word being excess. Excess for excesses, things she does not need. So to answer her question I think she should do neither. Neither buy her unnecessary soon to be closeted and forgotten blouse nor donate to the homeless shelter that could not be more foreign to her isolated and protected bubble. For Jessica to share something with value she should invest her time working in a homeless shelter, providing outreach, organizing fundraisers, creating awareness about the community or participating in some other charity she is passionate about. Because what could be a more empty gesture than throwing a single donation at some random charity that happened to be pulling at her heartstrings outside of a mall, almost as meaningless as spontaneously buying a blouse. - Like - 1 person likes this.
heather said on Jan 6, 2012
herself* - Like
EBott said on Jan 7, 2012
As difficult as managing finances as a college student is, jessica stills has the flexibility to live a comfortable life. For many Americans the thought of even simple holiday gifts is superseded by trying to find enough food and a place to sleep on a day to day basis. Jessica has already bought all the gifts she has budgeted and clearly had enough to be comfortable while still parting with that amount of money. Considering the great services provided by charitable organizations, give the extra money as a holiday gift to less fortunate. - Like - 14 people like this.
Reed said on Jan 7, 2012
Jessica should not feel obligated to donate the money. We do not know what Jessica's job is, or if she happens to do a lot of community service in her spare time. It is possible that her job already involves giving back. Giving money is one way of being charitable, but it is not the only way. Jessica might be giving in many other ways such as serving at a local soup kitchen, tutoring underprivileged kids, or tending to the elderly. She does not need to give something up in order to be serving those in need. Maybe she felt good after working hard in school and doing a lot of community service that she felt a simple blouse would be a nice treat. Jessica should be able to spend her money however she wants. - Like - 11 people like this.
Fpujals said on Jan 7, 2012
Jessica should donate the money. As others have said she is blessed to have an opportunity to a college education and friends to spend the holidays with, what real need does she need for a new blouse? While she should not feel pressured by society to donate the money, she should realize that donating the money she earned to a far reaching cause is more powerful than an impulse buy. - Like - 6 people like this.
Evan Bambico said on Jan 8, 2012
I honestly think she should spend some money on herself because she has worked really hardnfor that money. With whatever money she has left she should donate the money to the organization of her own desire. Personally, I would hope that she give the money to the Homies Organization, which helps previous "gangsters back into society as job-holders and good citizens. She definitely needs to support wr own self in buying things for herself, but also setting aside a set amount for a charity of some sort. Morally we have been fed to say that she, " Donate right away!" but in reality most of us actually think she deserves to treat herself to something nice. And hopefully she sets a limitnfor herself so that she can donate a certain, generous amount to the organization of her choosing and not over indulge. She should definitely reward himself because if she doesn't who will. And not to seem like a selfish decisions, before we judge Jessica, we honestly need some sort of background on her life to fully appreciate whichever decision she morally believes is correct. Respect to Jessica. I think she should do something nice for herself without forgetting so spread the joy. - Like - 8 people like this.
CHanafin said on Jan 8, 2012
Jessica should buy herself a blouse. She worked hard for the money and thus deserves to do what ever she wants. If she feels some how obligated to return the blouse, fine, there is no harm in that. Jessica should do what she wants to do with the money. However, one might say that she is being greedy if she doesnt donate the money. That statement could not be further from the truth. It is self interest that results in wonderful things. I want to some what paraphrase Adam Smith in his book The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776: We get our bread, milk, and candles not from the benevolence of the baker, the farmer, and the candlestick maker, we get it because of their concern for themselves. People tend to use the word greed in a negative light. Most of the time it is the motivation of greed that gets things done. Sadly, as demonstrated in past history it certainly is not going to be charity, although that is a wonderful idea. I think in the end, Jessica should by herself the blouse. I much rather see her donate her time and volunteer than to give money. - Like - 3 people like this.
EBevambc said on Jan 8, 2012
Sorry for some spelling mistakes, my iPhone wasn't easy to type on, still getting used to it. *herself And the "n" between some words is supposed to be a space - Like - 3 people like this.
Brittany Hardy said on Jan 8, 2012
I'd say give half and keep half. Although she may not be able to get the blouse, there are other ways she can treat herself while still helping someone in need. - Like - 2 people like this.
Miriam Schulman said on Jan 10, 2012
And the Winner is&. Well, before we get to the winner, we want to say how delighted we were to see so many responses to the last couple of cases we've posted. The conversation has been lively and thought provoking. And because so many of you participated, it seemed like a good moment to say a little more about how we choose the winner from the five finalists selected by "likes." What do we mean in the rules when we say the winner of The Big Q contest is decided "based on the student's analysis of the ethical issues." What makes a good analysis of the ethical issues? It usually would make reference to commonly understood ethical approaches, such as fairness, or virtues, such as honesty and responsibility. We always provide a link from the case to "A Framework for Ethical Decision Making," which is a great, brief guide to these approaches. That doesn't mean we're looking for an academic treatise. And it doesn't mean there's one right answer. In the case above, it means that the answer has to go beyond how giving to charity will make Jessica feel. While a valid consideration in ethical analysis, feelings are not sufficient for determining the ethical approach. You might feel fine about stealing, but that wouldn't make it ethical. We thought that Ryan Parry did the best job this week of addressing the ethical issues, drawing on ideas about compassion and the common good in his response. Congrats to Ryan and to everyone: Please continue to send us your comments. - Like
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Tags: Charity, Giving, Helping, Holiday