A little help goes a long way

By The Mercury

That Powerball jackpot is getting plenty tempting, having passed the $325 million mark over the weekend.

No doubt a lot of Black Friday shoppers were bummed out that they didn’t win the windfall… until they realized that they weren’t alone.

Then it dawned on them — perhaps between the 40-inch TVs and the shopping cart full of other items they couldn’t resist — that paying for all that stuff will be a snap if they just get a little lucky in Wednesday’s drawing. Besides, come Wednesday, they won’t have to settle for a mere $325 million; the jackpot is expected to be about $425 million.

That’s good money — good enough to vault the winner into the 1 percent — the envied and demonized 1 percent — even after taxes. Staying in the 1 percent for any length of time might be a challenge for impulse buyers, but as any Monopoly player knows, it’s better to have been loaded and lost it than never to have been loaded at all.

That some previous Powerball winners have found adjusting to all that new wealth to be more trouble than it’s worth is a sobering reality. Nevertheless, holding that oversized check when the cameras are clicking is a nice fantasy.

Having more money than you ever dreamed of, and having the leisure to enjoy it, might also allow time to realize how many people aren’t in your shiny new shoes. And how much good you could do.

You could open a clinic — or a bunch of clinics — in Haiti, or rebuild a few blocks in an area hard hit by Superstorm Sandy. That would be satisfying.

But such satisfaction doesn’t take hundreds of millions of dollars. Nor is it limited to the 1 percent. Far from it.

For instance, one needn’t be wealthy to heed the call of the Salvation Army bells and drop some coins or even a few bills into one of those red buckets. It doesn’t take deep pockets to give some food or some money to the Flint Hills Breadbasket. (In fact a downright enjoyable opportunity to do just that comes this Friday during the Mayor’s Spirit of the Holidays Lighted Parade.) And it doesn’t take great wealth to contribute to the United Way, or to some of the agencies that depend heavily on the generosity and good will of local citizens.

Yes, you can do more good when you have millions of dollars than you can when you have just a few dollars to spare. But helping someone — even a little — can make you feel like a million dollars.

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