Pay it Forward…or Backward…Just Pay It! (please read and pass on) December 5, 2012Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
Tags: charity, Chris Mark, donate, goodwill, helping others, toys for tots
As we are in the Holiday Season, I thought it appropriate to write this post. I struggled with whether or not to include some background but I think if it compels one or two more people to act, it is worth including. Some of those who know me well know my background but most likely do not.
I grew up in a very poor household. We never had a car, and I don’t think we ever had a TV. We lived in public housing, were frequently on foodstamps, and often our food came from food banks and the generosity of others. My mother became an expert at stretching staple foods into multiple meals. Our clothing was typically from Goodwill and other thrift stores. While living in Buffalo, NY one winter our power and gas were turned off (love the ’70s 😉 and my pet hamsters died from the cold. When I was 11 and my sister 13, my step father was imprisoned and my mother left us (we have since reunited). We were taken in and raised by very generous families who gave us the opportunities to succeed in life. I share this as I am forever grateful for their generosity and love and hope my story will compel others to donate this holiday season. In short, without the generosity of others my own life would have been much different.
This holiday season, please don’t forget that there are numerous families that struggle every day just to survive. Parents struggle to feed their children and buy clothes much less purchase presents. Irrespective of your own religious, political, or ideological beliefs, the facts are that many people struggle just to provide basics. Giving a little can really help a family in a time of need.
Now that I have (hopefully) tugged at your heartstrings ;)…here is how you can help.
Please consider visiting a local charity and seeing if you can donate. Foodbanks will always accept food and your old, out of style clothes or clothes that no longer fit may be just the right fit for someone else. That sportscoat you have not worn in a year may be the piece de resistence that helps someone get that job they so desperately need. An old pair of hiking boots may not be cool in Aspen any longer but can double as a great pair of work boots. That pair of jeans you can no longer squeeze into from working out so hard (yeah..that’s why;) will fit someone else much better. Some teen girl will feel like a movie star carrying that old designer bag that you now consider to out of style and gauche. Nothing is worthless to those who have little or nothing.
Good places to start your charitable endeavors include local Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Christian Science centers or other religious centers (Depending upon your beliefs). You can also hit up Goodwill, and other donation centers. Just look in the proverbial Yellow Pages or do a quick Google search.
So you are new at this wondering what to give? Good question! Here are some tips in no particular order.
- Staple foods that store well- Rice, beans, pasta, oatmeal, pasta sauce, etc. I have turned my own wife in a Chili-Mac lover! If you don’t know what Chili Mac is…well you are missing out!..it is Chili and Macaroni mixed together. A hearty meal that is 1) cheap 2) tastes great and 3) easy to make from stuff that lasts a long time. If you prefer to eat Caviar and Foi Gras..awesome! It probably is not the best thing to donate, however. Remember, quantity over price. Just as an FYI..you can buy 20lbs of long grain White Rice from Walmart for about $10 or you can by 20 lbs of Jasmine Rice for $17….go with the long grain rice and buy 2 😉
- Baby stuff- Diapers are expensive and always needed. If a young mother can save $20 on diapers..she can buy more food. Baby wipes, formula, and bottles are also helpful. Blankets, onsies, and socks are needed. Generic over name brand diapers will save a ton.
- Hygiene products – People often forget that hygiene products are expensive and needed. A man applying for a job in that new sportscoat you donated may also want a clean shave.
- Cold Weather stuff- blankets are always welcome! I live in Utah…it gets cold. Blankets are a lifesaver (literally at times). Coats, jackets, thermal underwear, hats, & gloves.
- Work gear- People want to work. Many visiting thrift stores work manual labor. Boots, and gloves are required. I remember my own stepfather coming home with blistered, bleeding hands from working without good gloves. Work coats are also valuable.
- Tools- Many people want to work but are required to bring their own tools. If you are like me and somehow acquired 7 hammers and 5 tape measures over the years…donate them! Makes it much easier to get a job when you come ready to work.
- Anything else you don’t want, need, or wish to buy and donate!
- Toys or gifts…the holidays are always tough for families. Think about sponsoring a family for Christmas, Hanuka, or other holiday or visit your local Goodwill or the insanely handsome, dashing, debonaire, smart, handsome (did I already say that?) United States Marines taking Toys for Tots. Think about that mother or father who don’t have the ability to give a single gift to their child for Christmas. Your small donation can make some people very happy.
- Money- nothing else needs to be said.
- Your time, effort, expertise- You would be surprised how valuable budgeting advice can be or how useful your time and strong back may be! If you can’t afford to donate goods or money…donate your skills, strength or knowledge. Talk to your local charity and they will be able to put you to work.
- Pet food- If you are a pet lover, consider giving pet food. Often when families struggle it is that other member (the dog, or cat) that is last to get fed. Your local major pet store will likely have a Pet donation option.
Thanks for reading and if you have never donated, take the first step!
Thanks for reading and have a Happy Holiday Season!!