Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Liberal's Guide to Gift Giving

I pull a 'Scrooge face' and groan as the commericials on TV remind me to hurry up and spend, max out the credit card, and then spend some more on this holiday season. Bah Humbug, indeed!

There are too many going without anything, including a meal this holiday season. What's the point of one more gift? Can't live without one more DVD, a sweater you'll never wear, or one more tool set? Sure you can.

What if - you took all the money you would normally spend in gifts for others and put it towards someone who truly needed it? (Give it to a local shelter/Red Cross/food bank - and get a tax write-off?)
What if - you counted the hours you spend shopping for the perfect gift, waiting in line, asking over-worked and under-paid retail staff only to discover they are out of that size and gave it back to your community? (Volunteer to feed the hungry at a local shelter, staff a food bank/clothing closet, etc)
What if - you gave a gift that would fill a hungry stomach, ensure a warm place to sleep, or just make someone smile who hasn't done so in days? (Donate canned goods, clothing, blood, etc)

You can, right here in Lansing.

There is a terffic article in yesterday's LSJ by a very promising up-and-coming writer, Melissa Domsic about the needy in our very own backyard.

With one in four Lansing residents living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census, local food banks and soup kitchens have reported increases in clients as they begin holiday drives. Others are seeing more first-time visitors.
-snip-
About half the people who go to Our Savior food pantry are children, Miller said."Times are terrible out there, I think more so than people realize," she said

There's no reason for poverty in Lansing, not when we have such a fantastic and giving community to come together and help make things a little brighter for those in need.

Look to the right and you will see a permanent list of organizations that could use your time, your money, or your food and clothing donation, when ever you can give, not just during the holidays.

This holiday season, I'm not shopping for the usual Christmas fare. I'm putting my meager culinary talents to work and will be baking my Grandmother's Applesauce Brown Bread for my family friends, instead.
I'll be taking the usual gift money and putting it towards canned good items for these local shelters and always making sure to have spare change to give to the bell ringers outside of the local grocery store.
I'll be going through my closets and donating unused/gently used clothing to the various charities with Clothes Closets to give to those who need it more than my closet hangers.

There is no season of giving, nor should there be.
We're part of this community, and we should need to come together as often as we can and join hands and lift up those who need our help.
Give of yourself and your gift recipents won't be the only ones smiling. :-D

8 comments:

Zack said...

My family is doing something like this for Christmas this year. We're all picking charities that we support (nothing religious or political), and then making donations of about $50/person in each others' names to the various groups. I'll still have a gift exchange with my immediate family, but I thought this was a cool way of giving back during the holidays.

Of course, I was a bit selfish and picked the non-profit organization that I work for, The Michigan Interfaith Trust Fund, as my charity. Basically we offer low-interest loans to other non-profits in Michigan for affordable housing and community development work throughout the state.

Mensch71 said...

Zack, you are fabulous. FYI

My family does essentially the same thing. We do gifts for the kiddies but the adults all donate to a large charity. For the last few years, it has been the Heifer Project. (http://www.heifer.org/)

Also, we don't do Thanksgiving on Thursday but rather we give away our dinner and have burgers instead.

I'm probably going to volunteer on Thursday at one of the local homeless shelters to cook and serve dinner. Anyone want to join???

Patrick said...

Great idea. May I nominate my employer, the 54-year-old Michigan Nature Association, which maintains 163 nature sanctuaries in 53 counties throughout Michigan? That's 8,500+ acres of habitat for plants and animals protected from the bulldozers......see www.michigannature.org for more. And thanks.

LiberalLucy said...

I will be plenty of volunteering. Perhaps we could organize an LLP day at one of the shelters to serve a meal?

Thanks to Patrick (again!), I'm starting to think of perhaps doing a list of Lucy's Favorite Charities or something off on the the side. Any thoughts?
Btw, I'm a huge fan of the Heifer Project, got my catalog a couple weeks ago.

And more thanks to Zack - I'll have to add the MITF to that list I'll be working on.

Good ideas, folks! Let's keep them up!

Rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rose said...

Sounds like a plan. I always enjoy making something for friends rather than buying something. As I'm sure you know.

If you do have to buy something, there's always the sites at www.thehungersite.com If you access the store through any of the sites a portion of your purchase goes to that particular site. Ex. I bought a ring (they all have the same stuff) through the rainforest site and I saved over 1000 sq. feet of rainforest. Pretty cool I'd say. Plus they're fair trade too. So you're helping people from other countries by buying their wares.

LiberalLucy said...

You guys are all rockstars!
Thanks to everyone for your suggestions, I'm going to be mulling over them in the next couple days. Stay tuned for the changes!

feedme said...

Hi, it's me THE Jane MArshall from the Food Bank Council of Michigan. Just want to applaud all of you who see the value in making charitable contributions instead of buying stuff for the holidays. Most charities that provide basic needs are struggling to raise the funds they need this year, so please know that your financial support will be greatly appreciated. If you want to help out the mission of ending hunger in Michigan, visit feedmichigan.org. thanks!