This donation time can even take place in your own neighborhood. Do you have an elderly neighbor who might need help in the yard...or walking their pet? Or just might enjoy having someone to talk to? Or a single parent who seems obviously overwhelmed? Now, sometimes it's hard to figure out how to start that ball rolling. Here's the easiest way - you see them out in the yard and you just go over to say hello. Talk about something that is going on in the neighborhood or the weather or how pretty their flowers look. Before you know it, you'll be on friendly terms with them. Every day, all around us there are people who could just use a helping hand or sometimes, just a simple smile to keep them going.
One of the things that I care about more than anything is animal welfare. In our town, our shelter has a food pantry where financially struggling pet owners can come and get food and supplies for their pets. It's such a great thing because with the economy being what it is, so many people have to give up their pets because they can't afford the food and supplies for them. Every day, I see ads from people giving up pets because they can't afford them. Can you imagine how heartbreaking that would be? So, at Christmas this year, when my family asked me what I wanted, I handed over the wish list from the pet pantry. And look how they came through!
Now, this is something that I never could have afforded on my own. But with everyone pitching in, I can now donate lots of great stuff to the pet pantry. I'm so excited to deliver it and to think about the pets and owners that these items will help.
We've decided that we'll do it again this Christmas too. I'm super stoked to see what we can gather up.
This brings me to an idea that I had called "Gradual Giving". I know that the Mister and I will still be on a tight budget this year but I want to be able to add to the donation to the pantry next time. Here's how we're going to do it - each week when we go to the grocery store, we'll pick up one can of cat food and one can of dog food to add to our donation box. Nothing fancy - just the cheapest that we can find which is usually about eighty cents for both cans. I'm also going to work coupon magic and when there are nicer things that I can get for cheap, I'll get those too - but never over a dollar per week. Then we'll come home, drop them in the donation box and forget about them. And week by week, though our grocery bill won't suffer, we'll have a nice full box to donate at the end of the year. Exciting!
This can be done with any cause that you'd like to support. You can start a box for your local food bank. Or personal hygiene supplies to donate to your local homeless or battered women shelter. Or school supplies for an organization that helps families afford to send their kids to school. Little gifts for nursing home residents.
The possibilities are endless and this plan can be suited to any charity that you'd like to support. Just look them up online or call them and find out what items they usually need most of all and go from there. You could even do this with a certain person or family in mind. Do you know someone in your neighborhood (or another)that has a hard time making ends meet? Pick up little items as you can and start a nice basket of things for them. Sometimes, pride keeps us from accepting donations from people but under the guise of holiday giving, most people will smile and never think anything of it.
And let me tell you, if you save up your coupons, you can get these donation items really cheap! It can be a pretty fun game to see what you can afford if you try.
If you don't want to collect items, you can always just have a jar that you put your change in. By the end of the year, apply it to whatever charity strikes your fancy. For instance, when I see the "Angel Tree" that our local Salvation Army puts up every year, I always want to take a child's name from it and buy a toy or new clothes for them but usually, we're in holiday budget lock-down mode and I can't. This would be a good way to manage that too.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not preachy preachy and saying that you have to. Not by any means. This is just an idea for those of us who want to and sometimes feel overwhelmed and like we won't be able to afford to. The charity that usually gets the most attention is the kind where a bigwig donates a giant cardboard check to an organization for a flashy photo-op. But for the most part, the majority of charity happens under the radar every day. Hold the door open for someone you don't know. Stop your car and help a wandering, lost pet. Take the time to listen when a coworker seems like they're having a hard time. Clip a small bouquet from your garden for a neighbor or nursing home. Keep your eye on the neighborhood kids walking to and from school to keep them safe. No matter how small it seems, it's a big deal.
My friend, Gia gave me a postcard that says, "Remember that everyone you meet loves something, has lost something, and is afraid of something." Most of us just want to feel like we matter and that we're noticed in this world. I think that we can do that for each other if nothing else.
Until next time,
x's and o's,