Editor’s note: This column first published Jan 12, 2018.
Is there any better feeling in the world than getting a package in the mail? — I mean besides love, roller coaster rush and the act of giving.
I’m waiting for a special package, and I can barely contain myself. Last Christmas, my wife Betsy gave me one of the greatest gifts ever in the history of Christmas gifts. It was not an official Daisy Red Ryder Ranger Model 1938 Air Rifle BB Gun. It’s better, and this gift won’t poke my eye out.
It’s my membership renewal to The Planetary Society. Go ahead and take a pause, a nerd alert is in order. I’ll wait ...
Last year, Betsy made me part of the Curiosity Team at The Planetary Society. I got a membership card in the mail and a subscription to the nonprofit’s quarterly magazine, detailing the highlights in current space news. But more importantly, it benefits The Planetary Society’s mission of educating the public and lawmakers on the importance of continued exploration of space. This includes space-based earth science, key to understanding Earth’s changing climate and mysteries only solvable from a birds-eye view.
This year, Betsy began donating $25 per month in my name to this organization. I get a cool T-shirt with the Saturnian moon system, member logo pin, a LightSail poster and my name listed on the Planetary Society’s Donor Honor Roll. But it’s not the gifts that gets me the most excited. It’s the advocacy. My letter notifying me of the new contributions said:
“Last year, you advocated for space exploration as a member of the Planetary Society’s Curiosity Team. This year, you will experience space advocacy and more as part of the Planetary Society’s Pathfinder Team.”
Pathfinder, of course, is the first rover to land and explore the Martian surface. Advocacy and supporting a cause financially can sometimes be like navigating an alien world. It’s difficult to know what and where to explore, but when you find the right spot, it can bring great reward.
What ever you believe in — public media, the Red Cross, UNICEF, The Salvation Army or the local shelter service — don’t be afraid to support it. Donate funds, volunteer your time and energy, or promote the cause in your social circle. Giving is something that is needed year-round, and if we forget the importance of a charitable society, we’ll loose the very thing that makes us human.
Contact Mike Mendenhall at