Thanks for your email.
And good for you for wanting to give! God is generous and loves it when we are too. So I know He sees your heart and is pleased!
Let me tell you what I’ve always done. I tithe (give the first 10%) to the church where I worship — that’s been Life Center for the last 40 years. That is where I worship, am fed spiritually, am being discipled and where I serve. If I buy my groceries at Safeway, I don’t make the check to Albertsons. :) While there is scriptural support for this practice (tithing to your church), it is not specifically commanded in the New Testament. (BTW, Life Center gives away almost 20% of our offerings to the poor and to other gospel ministries.)
I’ve also always given an offering above and beyond my tithe to the church. And Laina and I have also supported various missionaries and ministry organizations beyond that.
Finally, we are spontaneously generous — as you suggested — with people in need, whether friends, families or strangers. So most of our giving is planned and purposeful, but we always are open to spontaneous generosity as well.
I’m sure that sounds overwhelming to someone just getting started, with a part time job, and with college loans coming due! So I suggest that you start where you are, do your best, and grow your giving as your income grows. Again, God sees your heart! :)
Hope that helps.