A knight in shining kindness

What better model is there than Capt. Sir Tom Moore for being charitable during the COVID-19 crisis?

Tom Moore raised money for British health workers by walking the length of his garden one hundred times before his 100th birthday. On May 20, after raising more than $43 million, he was knighted.

Be flexible. Be bold. Be quicker than you think you can be.

In the COVID-19 era, this is the advice now commonly given to charities and philanthropists. The crisis demands generosity on a mass scale and in creative ways.

And then there’s Capt. Tom Moore, the example of all that.

Or as of May 20, Sir Tom Moore.

The 100-year-old war veteran in Britain has become a global hero for his inspiring spirit of giving, so much so that Queen Elizabeth knighted him Wednesday for his exceptional initiative in fundraising.

In April, Sir Tom set out to walk 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday with the goal of raising $1,250 for health workers in Britain. He was boldly challenging himself to be as flexible at home with a walker as he was challenging others to be flexible and bold in their donations.

He not only completed the laps ahead of time, but also caught the world’s imagination. He ended up raising more than $43 million and counting. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called him “a beacon of light through the fog of coronavirus.”

Sir Tom tapped into a rich vein of humanity during a time of great need. “This started as something small and I’ve been overwhelmed by the gratitude and love from the British public and beyond,” he said. “Everybody has some kindness somewhere.”

Around the world, giving of all kinds has shifted into a different gear to respond to the health and economic crisis. Many governments have set up special foundations to funnel private donations into causes that fill the gap in safety nets. Billions of dollars are being raised to find a vaccine for the coronavirus. Food banks around the world report unprecedented demand – and unprecedented giving.

The United Nations estimates that a quarter of a billion people will require urgent food aid by the end of 2020. Billions already need help of some sort as a result of the pandemic and the economic fallout. Those responding to the need must be flexible, bold, and quick.

After Sir Tom thanked the queen for being knighted and the public for its generosity, he wrote on Twitter: “I will remain at your service.”

Indeed, his example can't help but inspire all of us to greater service.

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