Be like Jerry Garcia: Always grateful.

But, you know, the living kind.

It’s been a good time to see generosity in the region this month — and hopefully it’ll continue in the next few weeks, years, centuries.

Or, at least, a few days.

It is always uplifting to hear about someone helping someone who is down. It doesn’t take much.

On Tuesday, the Wildlife Center of Venice received a $1 million gift. Yes, you can say that in a Dr. Evil voice if you’d like: One Million Dollars. But that donation is far from evil. Only good.

The donation, from a Nokomis couple, will go a long way to help the organization rescue, rehabilitate and release mammals, birds and reptiles injured in the region.

Based in part off that donation, the facility off Jackson Road is now the The Paul A. Gross and Veronica H. Gross Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida.

Paul Gross told me Tuesday afternoon that his family had given money for many educational purposes through the years. But he has spent much of his life in Florida and knows how important wildlife is to what makes the state great.

“My wife and I thought this is the right thing to do,” he said. “You can feel the generosity of this board.”

Center Director of Operations Pamela Defouw said she was not expecting such a pledge.

“I was floored. I was blown away,” she said.

With Giving Tuesday coming up this week, a lot of groups are coming out and asking if you’d like to donate small gifts to help with big projects.

If you know a nonprofit, you can expect it to be shaking a digital can in the next several days. I won’t tell you what you can afford to give — but maybe we can all sacrifice a few days/weeks of on-the-go coffee.

It can go to help projects in Venice itself.

“It’s important for all of us to be a part of the same community,” Agnes Woros told me Friday. “That’s part of what the Lions does, is it gives back to the community we all live in.”

Woros, with the Venice Lions Club, wants to raise funds to help build an all-abilities playground similar to North Port’s Boundless Adventures Playground at the Garden of the Five Senses.

They’d like to build it at Venezia Park off Harbor Drive South, which is a park the group sponsors.

“We go in and clean it every quarter,” Woros said. “That’s where we’d like to put an all-abilities playground.”

This weekend, you are going to hear a lot about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Are You Skipping Church Sunday? and Cyber Monday. But you’ll also hear about Giving Tuesday — and maybe you can chip in a few cents, dollars or millions.

And if not money, perhaps there’s time or simple kindness. Many groups, like Habitat for Humanity of South Sarasota County and others, are always looking for volunteers. You can help projects, earn camaraderie and sometimes get snazzy T-shirts.

And sometimes you’ll just receive an unexpected kudos from a family that reach out to the newspaper.

Bay Indies family Charise, George and Tiffany Augustine are enjoying their first winter in Florida. They experienced something well-beyond the warmth of our weather, Charise told me in an email.

On Monday afternoon, an incident brought her to tears — the good ones.

Tiffany has “multiple special needs,” Charise said. Tiffany is 27, but the physical size of a 10-year-old and she functions at the level of about a 12-month-old, her mother said.

The family stopped for lunch at Dockside Waterfront Grill about 2 p.m. Nov. 25. Charise called their server, April, “awesome.”

Dockside Grill told me the server is named April Reid.

“She offered to ask the kitchen to puree Tiffany’s food, even though we bring our food grinder everywhere we go because Tiffany cannot chew,” Charise said. “The kitchen staff sent out a perfectly pureed meal, which was an act of kindness.”

But that wasn’t all.

Someone else picked up their bill, Charise said. April said a couple sitting across from their table quietly paid, including April’s tip in the bill.

“The couple had left before we could even thank them,” she said. “We have no idea who that couple was, and if they are reading this now, my husband and I would like to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness and generosity.”

In a day and age when we tend to bicker and fight one another, a few simple acts of kindness go a long way.

“This story proves that good and kind people are everywhere despite what the nightly news portrays about the state of humanity today,” Charise wrote.



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