Talk with your feet

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“I’ll be the hero, you be the star
With your wine and your caviar
No audition, a starring role
I’ll be your Bogart ’n’ you be Monroe, yeah”
“Action! Not Words” — Def Leppard

One of those songs that you realize as you age had a very different meaning than your childhood understanding, “Action! Not Words” was the ninth song on Def Leppard’s third studio album, “Pyromania.” The album was a huge success, charting at No. 2 on the Billboard album charts only because Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was out at the same time.

While the record received huge airplay, “Action! Not Words” was buried on the B side (how many high schoolers even realize what a B side is?!) and peaked at No. 42 on the rock singles play chart.

The song is presented as if it’s a director making a movie with a preferred actress. The way I understood the line “got no script baby, ain’t no lines” in my younger years was that he was making a silent movie.

Most of you get what sort of movie was really being discussed.

In one of my men’s choirs in college, the director was quite open to input as far as which part a singer should sing, as there were multiple talented musicians with expansive ranges in the choir due to its time slot being one of the most advantageous of the choral offerings at the school.

His line to the members of the choir was to “talk with your feet.” In other words, if you feel that your voice is best suited for second base on a particular song, head that way, if you feel your range can handle singing first tenor, head that way.

I only remember one song ever needing to be re-balanced once guys went to their preferred spots, so we knew our voices pretty well.

The basis of that comment, “talk with your feet,” was that instead of wasting time talking in class and outside class how you feel that you could contribute more if you were singing with the baritones instead of the second tenors, go join the baritones and show it.

Contribute through action, not simply words.

All too often, that reminder is a good one to have come through my head.

Heck, my job is to put together words in a story format in order to convey news and events to readers, and even then, sometimes there’s a tendency to sit back and email a list of questions to a potential interviewee rather than sitting down in person and chatting.

This week, I was able to attend the South Dakota Farmers Union state convention here in town, for media coverage. While Farmers Union does an excellent job of taking pictures and writing up articles about the panels and keynote speakers at their annual event, there’s a different feel when you’re actually there in person to shake hands, snap the pictures yourself, and hear the inflection of the words being spoken.

Huron saw a big fallout from social media drama surrounding the Beadle County Humane Society over Thanksgiving weekend.

I’m not going to dive into the weeds of the issue at hand, but when discussing concerns with BCHS, many of the commenters sidestepped questions about whether they’d been to the shelter to offer volunteer time by stating that they had donated funds.

The proximity of multiple days in December which have focus on giving has led to the month of December being considered the month of giving. This past week, as it is every year, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is celebrated as “Giving Tuesday,” seen as a kickoff for donations for the month to local non-profits.

Previous research has shown a range between 15-25% of all of a non-profit organization’s revenue comes during the month of December.

While that seems like a notable minority of the overall giving, also realize that each month is roughly 8% of the year, so even on the low end of those studies, December is bringing in twice the percentage of annual giving as it would be expected on a monthly basis.

Heck, this week also celebrated the 75th annual Salvation Army’s Christmas Basket in Huron. The program in Huron has been featured statewide in the past for its longevity, but also because the program tends to raise a significant amount of funds for the Salvation Army’s entire operating budget. Add in bell-ringing in December, and our local Salvation Army gains a heavy majority of its yearly budget in the holiday season.

However, when we have an issue with simply donating money, like what happened when we had a week-long cold snap before Christmas that cancelled schools throughout the region and also led to the Salvation Army pulling in its bell ringers at multiple locations throughout the city, there’s not really a way to make that up.

It’s a big reason why the Salvation Army put out multiple notes early in the year requesting one-time gifts and support.

Our Humane Societies, Salvation Armies and other such organizations do incredible work in town, and for many, they see monetary giving as a difficulty in their current household budget and feel that they aren’t able to contribute.

All of those organizations need one major thing, though - you. Not your checkbook (do high schoolers know what one of those is?!) or credit card or even your jar of pennies.

You. In person. Offering yourself.

Offer to walk the dogs at the shelter, offer to teach a class at Salvation Army or serve lunch, offer to answer phones or any other host of actions that are absolutely needed at a service agency, and you’ll contribute significantly.

A recent study released by Giving.com (October 2022) noted that while nationwide charitable giving as a portion of the country’s gross domestic product has remained stable for decades, an alarming trend has shown up since 2010 - volunteer man-hours (or woman hours or however you want to tag it) have dropped by nearly 50% from 2000 to 2019 and have not rebounded at all post-pandemic.

The majority of that downtrend occurred in the decade of 2010-2019.

Don’t halt your financial contributions, as they are still absolutely needed and allow agencies in town to offer services that are desperately needed within the community.

However, take action as well, using your feet to talk, and offer yourself to your favorite organizations to ensure they can serve those in the community that need them most.