How I Turn Bad Times Into Good with Toys for Tots

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We lawyers get a bad rap. Sometimes when I tell people I'm a criminal defense attorney, I can just see them making snap judgements about me.

Scoundrel. Cheat. Finagler. Liar. Heartless crook.

It can make me sound like a real grinch. Of course they don't see how hard I work at my profession, my hobbies and interests, and how deeply I believe in giving back to my community. I'm a proud supporter of more than a dozen local and national charities, though child-related charities have a special place in my heart. Take for instance my work with Toys for Tots.

Toys for Tots is a charity run by the U.S. Marine Corps whose mission is "to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children." It's a wonderful organization that helps the most vulnerable families in our society, and it's one I serve with gratitude and pride.

Listen, I might seem tough--that's what makes a good lawyer, after all--but there's nothing that makes me go softer than the thought of a child in need, particularly around the holidays. People sometimes assume the money I earn is "dirty" or "bad," but of course they don't think about how eager I am to spend that money on those who are less fortunate. My motto might be "When a good time goes bad," but I'm just as concerned about turning bad times into good, especially right here in Greenville.

I love knowing that my support directly impacts people in my community. Toys for Tots works closely with local agencies and services to distribute toys to children in need. By providing parents with gifts they can't afford to buy their children, Toys for Tots relieves them of the stress, burden, and guilt that the consumer aspect of the holiday demands. They can actually enjoy their Christmas, and I can enjoy mine knowing I've helped in some small way.

I wholeheartedly believe that children are the key to our future, and we need to invest in them--their education, wellbeing, and overall happiness--in order to make that future a bright one. Aside from being intrinsically driven to help others, I'm continually inspired by the work of great philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie. Not only did Carnegie give his fortune away, but he did it with great thought and intention. He wanted to uplift those he supported by helping them become more productive members of society. He took care of their needs so that they could focus on achieving success.

And who could be more deserving than financially strapped parents during the holidays? These are parents who cannot afford to provide their children with presents during a season when children are expecting much more than gifts--they're expecting magic. Of course, the magic for these children will be knowing that your parents can't afford presents this year, but still finding them under the tree on Christmas morning.

By investing in my community and providing children with the simple gift of a happy holiday, I feel that I've played a quiet but important role in making the world a better place. And to all those who doubt my integrity simply because of my chosen profession, I'll ask: if I'm such a grinch, why would I care about making the world a better place? After all, once the world is truly a better place, I like to think it'll put guys like me out of a job.

(Please consider getting involved with your local Toys for Tots program this holiday season. It's an easy way to make a big difference!)

Written by Rob Ianuario

Although I was not born into the legal profession, I chose to go to law school and became an attorney in 2008. With the encouragement of many established attorneys, I started my Greenville, SC law practice in 2010. I am the son of an engineer with strong ties to the automotive industry and collector cars. I have even worked as a BMW mechanic in Munich, Germany. Weather and court permitting, I am proud to drive a 1931 Model A Ford on a regular basis.
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