Last month, as the end of the year approached, I found myself thinking about making charitable donations more than I have in the past. I’ve always supported whatever church I attend (though far less so in recent years than I once did), and I regularly recycle my unused (or no-longer-used) clothing and household items via Goodwill, Salvation Army, and the like. But aside from volunteering time on occasion, I’ve never been especially good about financially supporting any other “causes” or not-for-profit organizations on a consistent basis. For whatever reason(s), I felt compelled to change that this year. I made a donation to an academic society, and I joined the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
I’m posting this here not to brag about my generosity or to set myself up as any kind of example (the amounts I gave are far too pitiful for that). Rather, I’m mentioning it so that I can put in a plug for Rails-to-Trails. I figure that contributing myself at least affords me the right to urge others to do likewise.
I am drawn to RTC for two reasons. First, they are fundamentally a recycling enterprise. They turn abandoned, no-longer-used spaces back into lively corridors, affording all who use them a safe, hassle-free area to enjoy. Second, what they provide ultimately benefits everyone. The trails they create are not limited to cyclists. Truth be told, I see far more walkers, joggers, teenagers, baby strollers, and leashed dogs on the local so-called “bike paths” in my area than bicycles. Moreover, not only do those who make use of the trails benefit from their existence, but the quality of life in entire communities is enhanced by beautification, better air quality, and improved health.
RTC offers a number of ways to get involved, and financial donations are last on the list. As they point out on their website, if you ride bike paths you’re already a supporter. So the next time you’re enjoying an RTC bike path, think about the value of that enjoyment, both to yourself and your community, and consider doing something to show your gratitude and appreciation. Thanks.