While donating blood Friday, my phlebotomist started talking about altruism. defines it this way:
1. the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others (opposed to egoism ).
The person drawing blood said he was predisposed to like the people he met professionally since they were taking time in their day giving blood to help others.

But, the question was whether it was altruistic?

If you are storing blood for your own upcoming surgery - then probably not.  Maybe it's not even purely altruistic if it was for a friend of loved one.  But, in general we concluded it meets the definition.

So, the question becomes "Why are people altruistic?"

Is it a matter of guilt?  
Or one of obligation; the sense that blessings received behoove us to give back to those less fortunate.

It could be for love of country.  Those serving our country in the military or public service frequently do it for others.

In some sense, whatever the motivation, giving to and serving others is a wonderful thing about our fellow humans, and about the United States in particular.

The feeling that if a neighbor needs help - we should help.

Living in South Dakota, that sense of duty was higher since with fewer people around you couldn't see a stranded car and expect the next guy to help.  There was no clue as to when the "next guy" might arrive.

I'm not always good at helping others.  There are things I don't do well or are so far outside my comfort zone to be uncomfortable.  Maybe that calls into question the quality of my "altruism."

When we help others, especially those who can't return the favor, its personally rewarding in the feeling of helping somebody else.

Whatever your reason, keep helping others.  There are so many places out there where each of us can make an impact.  This past Friday, the person giving blood on the next cot was doing so before heading to volunteer at the local food pantry for a few hours.

Help your neighbors; clean an area that needs it; help an organization reaching out to serve others.  Find a place that needs you and puts you to work.  There are countless opportunities - from bookkeeping to landscaping to reading.  There is a place for you to make a difference.

I think each of us want to do this.  Your reason for that?  I don't know, and am simply happy you are reaching out to help in the best way you can.

For me, the best example of altruism is Jesus Christ.  And while I don't believe we can do things to earn our way to heaven; helping others is a way of practicing our faith.

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds."  James 2
By the way, if you have about an hour, consider giving blood.  The heavy snows and bone-chilling cold forced the cancellation of many blood drives and prevented donations.  The supply is dangerously low.  Each donation can help three people.
And that, my friends, will make you feel real good!