Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Critical Mass

You know what December means, don’t you? Of course you do. It’s time for my annual column on giving. Honestly, I can’t believe it’s already time to be writing this again. Last year so many people were in hard times that I wrote this. Guess what? For as much as things have changed over the last twelve months, not much has changed over the last twelve months. At least, not as much as most of us would like. So maybe we should talk about critical mass. As usual, if you aren’t giving this year, or can’t give this year, that’s okay. But if you are or want to but don’t know how, here are a few thoughts…

1.      Pick an organization or cause you care about and pledge to give them…however much you can every single month of the year. Choose one of the suicide prevention organizations I wrote about last month. Or a shelter you know about. Or the ASPCA. Whatever cause touches your heart. It can be five dollars. Seriously. It can be ten dollars. The individual amounts don’t matter as much as the twelve payments. Remember, we’re looking at critical mass, here.
2.      Get in touch with your best friend, your colleagues, your condo association, whomever, and all “adopt a family” together. Or a single child off of the mall’s Angel Tree. Or a senior. The point isn’t to give the most presents or even to give to the most number of kids. The point is to make your money - and your best friend’s, your colleagues’ or your condo association’s money - go the farthest.
3.      Get those same people together and everybody pitch in for a single toy. Schools, Toys for Tots, hospitals, human services organizations…again, take your pick and give them one present from all of you. There is no such thing as too small a donation.
4.      Every time you go to the grocery store between now and December 23rd, buy one unit of whatever nonperishable food is on sale. Or whatever toiletry is on sale. One. As you leave the store, drop it in the collection barrel that you know every single grocery in the area is going to have up.
5.      Think socks. Or underwear. Or mittens. Are they glamorous and exciting? Aw hell no. But you can get them at the Dollar Store and at discount stores and on sale for very little money. And when it’s winter and someone is cold, I promise, they will be prefer to have several pairs of socks over an iPod.
6.      Still too much this year? Believe me, I get it; I’ve been there. Look at your own closet. Anything still in reasonable condition that you don’t wear any longer? Coats, sweaters, hats, scarves – all good options, so long as they are gently worn. Even backpacks and purses. Shelters will find use for them.

And maybe, there’s just nothing. There is nothing extra to spend, nothing extra to give. None of us want to be there and yet, it’s the way of the world sometimes. There’s still something. As you walk by someone on the street, holding up their sign, look them in the eye. Acknowledge they are a human being. Tell them you wish you had something for them and that you’re sorry you don’t. Treat them as the equal they are. Show them some respect. It’s so little, it costs us nothing, and yet it can mean so very much. And really, isn’t that what this time of year is supposed to be about?

Those are Pobble Thoughts. Grateful some things have changed Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you a whole hell of a lot ~ and, yes, coffee.


Gay Soldier's Husband said...

Don't forget Toys for Troops! (Shameless plug for Lori...)

Clay and I stopped exchanging gift a while ago, and instead give to charities. One Christmas we were frantically rushing through the store, tossing gifts in the cart and trying to beat the package mailing deadline. We stopped, looked at each other and both realized that none of these gifts really meant anything to us - that we were just doing it because it was expected of us. From then on we donated our Christmas money to charities in the names of our loved ones.

This year we gave to Toys for Troops and Servicemembers United.