Tuesday, November 17, 2009

now's the time that we need to share

I know I'm not the only one who can't believe how quickly the holidays are approaching. Even my darling sister, who begins her Christmas countdown in September set her facebook status today to "what has happened to November?" or something similar.

Of course, with the holidays come buying gifts for friends and loved ones (side note- is it just me, or is that phrase slightly odd? friends and loved ones? are my friends not loved?). Along with those gifts, I always like to do some extra donations to charity. While I complain about my tiny apartment, or how I wish I had an iphone, I need to remember how blessed I really am. I have an amazing family and really wonderful friends. I have a loving boyfriend, an education and a job, a roof over my head, a fridge full of food and legs/metro card to get me where I need to go. There are a lot, a lot, of people in this world who are not as fortunate as I am, so I like to try to do what I can to help. By no means am I wealthy, but I can help in small ways, and I think that is an important thing to do. I know that the economy isn't great right now, and people are struggling everywhere, so I like to think that the little that I do, makes a tiny difference in someone's life.

As you know, I sponsor two little girls through World Vision. At the holidays, I send them an extra donation, which I do a few times throughout the year as well. $75 can buy a lot more in Albania than it can here, and since I just began sponsoring Boikokobetso in South Africa, I haven't done this yet for her, but I imagine it is more than in Albania (am I wrong?). Also, around the holidays, World Vision has a gift catalog where you can donate things like sheep, ducks, chickens, tree seedlings, soccer balls and so much more to needy families in developing nations. $25 will buy two chickens, and $30? Five ducks! Both will have lots of eggs, something that can both be eaten and also sold. Both good things. Last year, I sent along some chickens, ducks and seeds. Oh, and two soccer balls for $16! I don't know where they went, but I know they were well received.

The last few years, I also did the Angel Tree program. A friend had a tree at her office, so she brought me an angel. It listed the name, age and sizes of a child, and I went out and bought a few things for the child. I think I had to wrap them, and then my friend took them back to her office for me and they were delivered. She and I are no longer friends, so this won't happen this year, but maybe I will try it through the website. I have to have a better look at their site, but I like to pick out the gifts myself, rather than just donate money directly (am I strange?).

One year, I also did the Letter to Santa, which was local to DC, though they seem to have it elsewhere. I only did this once, several years ago, and it was a bit hard. I say that, because I went to the post office and picked through a basket full of letters to Santa. Most were written by the mothers, and the majority of them had five or six children (or more) of various ages, most asking for things like ipods or a wii. At the time, I didn't really have the extra cash for an ipod for myself, much less a family of eight. I finally found a letter from a mother of two children, one around eight and one around three. I bought them each a fleecie pullover, a toy and a book.

Every morning and most afternoons, I see Marines at my metro stop, holding a sign for Toys for Tots. I'm thinking that I may go with this one this year. I have a daily reminder to buy a few toys, and there are several drop-off locations in DC, so I think this will be fun. Maybe I will buy a Cabbage Patch Doll! Of course, I'll buy books. Every child needs books. Oh yes, oh yes they do.

There is also a food drive going on at work, it will run through December 31. I've gone through my cabinets and picked out several things to bring in. Also, when I've gone grocery shopping, I've made it a habit to pick up a few extra cans to donate. Many canned goods are less than a dollar each, so picking out a few cans of beans or the like won't put a huge dent in my grocery bill, and local soup kitchens really need the goods. I know that my office is hardly the only one doing this, it is all over the country. I'm sure the Salvation Army takes year-round donations too.

Do you do anything like this at the holidays? What is your favorite organization to support? Please share with me, I'd love to see more!


Rachel H. said...

I love doing things like this, and I love helping others particularly at the holidays!

Chef Liz said...

Most years I end up doing Toys for Tots, but I think I will be definitely checking out the World Vision catalog this year. How wonderful!

Mzchef said...

That would blow my mind, a mother of 8 asking for a wii. Sheesh... ok.. now I am just being judgey.

Anyway, good for you for being a kind, giving person.

I am just too jaded.

We give to kiva... but I read that microfinancing isn't all it is cracked up to be.

Anonymous said...


magda said...

This is a really lovely post, and a great reminder, too. The stress of the season too often overrides the obvious blessings.

And the world vision catalog on my end-table? Totally earmaked. I always stick those gifts in stockings, and this year they have some cool tangible gifts for the maximum impact fund, too ... so much fun!

Anonymous said...

Every year the University Department we work with finds a couple of local families that have been hit with hardships (loss of jobs, housefires, etc) and have the families come up with a wishlist. Many of the lists are very modest - clothes, pots & pans, shoes, sheets, etc.

Usually we collect money or people pick items themselves they would like to purchase. The generosity of everyone always amazes me and often times we have to go back and ask the family for more things they want. Sometimes we are able to treat them to fun things like a Wii or TV/DVD player along with all the necessities.

This is my favorite thing to do each year. When all the gifts are collected we spend an afternoon with holiday music and food and wrap all the gifts to be dropped off for the families. It's nice to give back to our community.

Jill said...

I love this post! It's so sad to me how many people have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas.

You're involved in such great organizations. My church always does the Angel Tree and I love participating. Last year my sister did a project for orphans in Tibet. It was really fun.