Tag Archives: Charities

Merry Solstice

Whatever the name of the event you’re celebrating, Happy It. The one thing that all the festivities happening at the time of the winter solstice solstice Christmas tree with Elsie cathave in common is that they are celebrations of life and giving and sacrifice.

It’s supposed to be a happy time and that is exactly why it often isn’t. One thing I always enjoy, in my jaundiced view of the hype of buying and getting and enforced cheeriness, is giving away. Money, time or stuff – no matter how grinch-like I’ve felt, writing cheques for charity and putting money in the Salvation Army kettles always makes me feel good.

Charities rely on that feeling of goodwill in people. Food banks need the festive season generosity of donors for the bleak months that follow. When people are still paying off December debts and, in our hemisphere, feeling the cold and dark of winter, donations drop. The reserve from December gets them through.

Animal shelters need money and supplies to deal with the numbers of animals dumped on them during and after the Big Day(s). The puppy, so cute with a big red bow, a month later is making a mess in the house that nobody has time to deal with, so out puppy goes. “She needs Charlie under tree opening presentsa home where somebody’s home all day”, they say to shelter staff tired after having heard that 20 times that day.

Food banks, soup kitchens, animal shelters: all staffed by volunteers who also would like some time off for holiday celebrations. They know their work will increase in the coming months. But people and animals still need to eat every day. So if you’re not doing anything – and even if you are – can you spare a few hours? Can you serve at the church basement dinner so that one of the regular workers can put his or her feet up and relax?

Easy Solstice giving

When you’re knocking fellow shoppers over at Wal-Mart to get the last-minute toy for your kid’s gift list, why not grab a second one? Give it to some other kid who won’t be getting it from his parents. When you’re getting a new hair bow for Fifi because it’s so cute, why not pick up a dog brush for your local animal shelter? They always need leashes, collars, bowls and supplies. If you don’t have a birdfeeder, buy one and a bag of seed for your spouse or kid. It’s a long, cold winter for little birds.

When you’re figuring out your holiday meal place settings, add another one for a neighbour who is alone. Or maybe they’d rather not join your family but would appreciate a hot plate of food or a homemade pie.

cats under Christmas treeI spent one Christmas alone in a new apartment. I’d made toys for the cats and was happy to spend the day with them. Then my landlord’s son came to my door, holding a foil-wrapped plate. “Mom thought you might like this,” he said and scurried away. It was the most delicious Christmas meal ever, and not just because she was a good cook. It was that they had thought of me. Have a wonderful Solstice and Season.

A Charity of Your Choice

When making funeral arrangements, it’s common to think of a charity to which the deceased person would like memorial donations to go.  card for charity donations in memory ofIt’s a nice way of remembering somebody and lasts longer than flowers.  Unfortunately, what also lasts longer than flowers, even perhaps the benefit of your donation itself, are the solicitations in the mail that you will continue to receive from the deceased person’s charity of choice.

I’ve always thought that, at the very least, dying should mean that people can raise money for a charity or cause meaningful to them.  They’re who died, not me.  If I want to contribute to things I care about, I should do that off my own bat.  However, I’m starting to see a benefit to the requests for “a donation to the charity of your choice”:  I’m already on the mailing list.

Give at a funeral to a charity that you don’t usually support, and you’ll be getting letters, address labels and notepads for the rest of your life, asking that you “once again” show your generosity.  I want to tell them – it wasn’t your cause I was being generous toward. I gave in memory of my friend or relative.  Take me off your list!

Why should memorial donations even make it to the mailing list?  These donations are receipted by the organization as being “in memory of” so they know why you gave.  If they wanted to save postage and goodwill, it might be wise to not include you on their mailing list.

charity address labels and solicitation lettersAnd how do charities that you’ve never donated to – for yourself, from door-to-door canvassers or at funerals – get you on their list?  I can only assume that they bought a mailing list that had my name on it.  And that had to be from an organization I donated to a funeral.  The groups I donate to do not send mass mailings or share mailing lists.

This crowd – in the photograph – I don’t recall ever giving so much as a nickel.  Now, they’ve sent me a nickel in hopes I’ll add to it and write them a cheque.  Nope.  But at least it partially compensated me for my time shredding the letter with my name printed throughout it. And also ripping the plastic window out of the envelope so that it can be recycled.  That’s more than you get from a lot of them.  And I’ve got these nice address labels that I didn’t ask for.  I’ll just put them with the 20 other sheets I’ve received from organizations that I will never donate to again. Because I am trying, by playing dead, to get myself off their mailing lists.

People without sense to come in out of the rain

Last week in our community paper, the St. Thomas/Elgin Weekly News, there was an article about a good and caring citizen and chiropractor Dr. Denise Colledge.  For the second year, she is collecting socks for children without any.  According to her teacher friends, there are children coming to school in the dead of winter with shoes but without socks.  So last winter, she collected over 600 pairs of new socks to be distributed to needy children.

This is a kind gesture, on the part of Dr. Colledge and all those who contributed.  However, I was flabbergasted, not by the generosity of spirit that led to the donation of these socks, but by the fact that it was necessary.  And I’m not going to talk about economic hardship thrift store, Sparklingdawg, Wikimedia Commons, caring citizen postand difficulty feeding and clothing a family in today’s economy.

I’m going to talk about several stores that operate in our town.  You don’t have to leave the confines of St. Thomas to find plenty of socks cheap.  You don’t even have to go to Walmart and buy the 12-pack of tube socks for $2.88 or whatever they cost.  There’s a Goodwill store, a Salvation Army store, a community-based store downtown called Keepers and another very large thrift store called Bibles for Missions.  These stores are where my socks come from, along with the rest of my clothes.  There are bins full of socks – for babies, kids, men and women.  A like-new pair of socks might run you 10 cents for kids, maybe 25 or 50 cents for adults.

In these stores you also find bins full of mittens and gloves, scarves and winter hats, similarly priced.  A good winter coat might cost $5, maybe $10 for a dressy women’s coat.  Yet, just in our town, there is an annual “mitten tree” collecting mitts, hats and scarves for kids and a winter coat drive by the Salvation Army and other churches so coats can be given away for free instead of the $5 usually charged at the Sally Ann store.

Caring and ‘thrifting’

Being a life-long shopper at thrift stores, both when my financial situation necessitated it and when it didn’t, I was astounded by the mitten trees and the coat campaigns.  I know just how cheaply you can outfit yourself and family in a thrift store, in style and in durability, especially if you apply the same bargain acumen that you use in any retail outlet.

But the socks!  People who send their kids to school without socks in winter need more than a free pair of socks for their kids.  They need life skills training, household economy Toys in thrift store, ProfDEH, Wikimedia Commonsmanagement and basic training in common sense, if that’s teachable.  In short, they need to be taught to come in out of the rain.

Value Village made thrift “the new chic” many years ago.  So my advice for those who have psychological problems in buying second-hand?  Get over it.  If I ever set up a foundation to aid people, I would name it “Umbrellas for people who don’t know enough to come in out of the rain”.

I couldn’t find a website for Keepers. It is located at 613 Talbot St. There’s a lovely website for the Salvation Army Thrift Stores, but the St. Thomas store isn’t listed on it. It’s at 105 Edward St at First Ave. If you want to contribute new socks to Dr. Colledge’s drive, take them to 172 Centre Street in St. Thomas. She’ll be taking them to schools for distribution on December 15th.

Click Fatigue

Every day I gave .6 bowl of kibble to shelter animals and 10 pieces of freekibble.com logo click to givekibble to other shelter dogs and 10 pieces to cats.  I had 2 foster dogs and 2 foster cats that I fed, walked and patted every day.   These were my virtual fosters and feedings.  I clicked to help every cause I could.  Waking up my computer meant first doing my clicking duties.  Going on Facebook meant ensuring my virtual fosters on Save a Dog and Save a Cat were taken care of.

Now I’ve lost those dogs and cats.  I got too busy to go on Facebook and my animals disappeared.  I feel horrible about it, but I can’t commit to them again.  I can’t promise them that I will log in and click every day for them.  I don’t always click every day on the Animal Rescue Site (and the attached Literacy Site, Rainforest Site etc.).  Sometimes I forget to answer the trivia question on freekibble for dogs and cats.

What put me over the edge was when I entered a new realm of giving by clicking.  The Pepsi Refresh site gives money for good causes and projects, both in the US and Canada.  I spent a considerable amount of time choosing my Canadian projects and then diligently clicked every day.  When I started feeling overburdened by clicking duty, I happened to see an ad on tv for an insurance company or credit card company.  I can’t remember what it was – maybe I’ve blocked it from my mind to protect myself.  You can support their worthy causes by signing up and clicking every day.  No!!! No more!

Click backsliding

So my backsliding started.  I forgot to click the easy ones, Animal Rescue Site and freekibble, a couple days in a row.  Then I didn’t go on Facebook for, like, a week.  Next time I logged in and went to Save a Dog and Save a Cat apps, my foster animals had disappeared.  Not just expired and easily renewed – but the message reading “you currently have no fosters”.  I searched the database and found them again, and diligently clicked for a week or so.  Then something else came up and I didn’t log in.  I lost them again.  This time, I haven’t gone back.  I’m not a responsible virtual pet parent.

I let my Pepsi Refresh causes win or lose without my help.  I try to remember to click the Animal Rescue Site and its affiliates.  I enjoy the trivia questions on freekibble so try to do it every day.  I still use banner from oldfriendsequine.orgGoodsearch as my search engine and raise a penny per search for Old Friends Equine Retirement farm in Georgetown, KY.  But that’s as much as I can do.  I am a click burn-out.