November 26, 2003

Thankfulness and donating

Tis the season, right?

There is so much for me to be thankful for this holiday, but there is also a lot that just seems so hollow without John here. The WildChild and I are doing a full spread for ourselves tomorrow, mainly because it is a tradition and I didn't feel right about just doing a chicken or something only because he isn't here. I'm trying so very hard to make sure that her life is as close to normal as possible while still helping her understand everything that is going on.

Really though, that isn't what I want to talk about...

See, I work for a shelter. That is my new job...I am the administrative goddess for an agency that helps homeless families transition to self-sufficiency. I also answer the phone.

People, if you want to volunteer you time serving meals....don't call the night before a holiday. Most shelters and churches that serve meals on the holidays are already staffed for those times. If you want to donate clothes? Please tell us what is in each bag. This would include winter or summer clothes, are they new or used, and, most importantly, sizes. If you want to donate household goods...are they in good condition?

Do you really want to know what we need?

We need diapers. We need baby wipes to go along with those diapers. We need quilts and blankets...and I'm not talking about the stuff that you have used for years and just don't want because it is falling apart. We need GOOD clothes for kids from the age of newborn to teens. Some of those clothes need to be plus sizes. We need coats, gloves, hats and scarves.

I recently read an article (and would link to it if I could remember where I read it) that said that people who donate items need to stop and think for a nanosecond. When you are donating food to be given out for a holiday, are you donating all the stuff from your cupboard that you don't want? Or are you donating food items that are healthy? When you are donating clothes and bedding, is it in good condition? Do you think that because someone is in need, they should wear clothing that would embarrass them? Should they have to eat the things you don't want just because they can't afford to buy food for themselves?

I'm not saying that we should all be donating all name brand all the time, but ya know, for a teen to get a "cool" item of clothing could really make their day.

The face of homelessness is changing in this country. It isn't just a single mother with very young children. It is two parents with school-age kids that are just trying to get back on their feet. It is the woman who has left a domestic violence situation and is trying to get her and her kids on a new path. It is a single father who is trying to find his way.

If you want to donate your time, please plan ahead. If you call someplace and they tell you that they don't serve meals, ask if you can donate money or gift cards for a certain store. Dontate gift cards for groceries. Most stores have them and they can't be converted back to cash. Donate gift cards for places like Old Navy where you can get a few shirts for the price of half of one in a department store. Donate gift cards to Target or CD Warehouse so that the kids can get something that they want.

Please know that if you donate cash, we aren't going to just give it to the family. We'll buy the gift cards for you if you like...just tell us where! Like you, we don't want to tempt our families back down 'the wrong path'.

Please just give. Even a $20 gift card would mean the world to a family that needs groceries or clothes. Times ARE tough all over...and for non-profit agencies like the one I work for, times are tough and donations are down. We can still provide shelter but providing things like food baskets for the holidays gets harder and harder.

It is good karma people....just give, OK?

Posted by rowEn at 11:37 PM | Comments (3)