Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Be Kind In Kind

From the bean of Green Bean.

"So somehow I got roped into this marketing group for the school, ya know, to try to raise money for the budget shortfall."

My friend huffed. "I'll tell you what schools should do. Find other ways to get way they need. Try new techniques that require less money. Think outside the box." Her chin jutted upwards as she looked away from me and back toward her daughter playing on the swings.

Huh? I couldn't understand my friend's reaction. She too had school age kids. And every school around here is facing major shortfalls due to stock market losses and budget cuts.

She sighed and looked back at me. "Nobody has any money to give," she enunciated. And she was right.

Recent economic events leave all of us - even those who are still gainfully employed - with a gnawing ache, a fear that lurks just out of sight. What if it happened to us? What if we lost our jobs? Our savings? Our house?

And so we all hold on to our wallets just a little bit tighter. We watch the balance on the checking account with an eagle eye and look for any way to trim our budgets.

But we all also want to pull together. We still want our children to have a quality education. Our elderly to enjoy stimulating activities. Our cities to offer meaningful recreation classes. Lost pets to find shelter. Theaters to provide entertainment. Artists to be nurtured.

For most non-profits, the downturn in the economy has hit especially hard. Giving is down and need is up. It is time to get creative. It's time to be kind in kind.

The next time you go on a cleaning, reorganizing, de-cluttering purge, take a look at what you are getting rid of. Is there a local non-profit that can use your cast offs and thereby save a buck or two? Those old towels and pillows can go to the animal shelter. The theater company can take unique clothing and costume jewelry. The school needs a filing cabinet, musical instruments and extra notepads. Yarn and knitting needles go to the senior center which is also looking for DVDs and puzzles. Check your local non-profits websites to see if they have any requests for in kind donations and see Organic Needle's list for more ideas. Many communities, like mine, also have a central non-profit wish list that is easily unearthed by an Internet search.

The list of needed items is endless and the process does take a bit longer than tossing everything into "Goodwill" bags or leaving it on your front porch for a freecycler. Like those other options, being kind in kind does keep your clutter out of the can. But it does something more. It provides homeless cats with a bed, children with an imagination, seniors with pastimes, and a school with enough money to hopefully keep P.E. going.

Enjoy the thrill of giving no matter the condition of your bank account. Even if you cannot afford monetary donations, you can still afford to be kind in kind.


Green Resolutions said...

Great post. And great idea about a central non-profit wish list.

My husband started his own business and my freelance work is down right now, so this is such a scary time for us. And you're right: I have been scared to respond to donation requests because neither of us knows when we'll get paid. But I am cleaning out and simplifying. I'll look for the recipients who will benefit the most from my hand-me-downs. Thanks for the inspiration.

organicneedle said...

Thanks for the mention. (I don't it links to me...but I love you anyway.)I have been trying to track down a clear wish list for NYC, like the one you mentioned your town has, but not having a heap of luck getting something straight forward...just links to individual charities. If I find one I will be sure to post it.

Green Bean said...

Green Resolutions: Thank you! I never thought about divvying up my hand me downs instead of freecycling them or lumping them in a goodwill bag until a friend turned me on to it. Feels great to give in these hard times.

Needle: Doh! Sorry about the link. All fixed now. Good luck on a NYC wish list. There really should be one for every county - makes it so much easier.

Melinda said...

Great post, and OMG that Seattle Times link is FABULOUS!!!!!!!! Thank you - I had no idea it existed!

Joyce said...

Our schools for years have published "wish lists" both as individual schools and distrct wide. No item is too small or too large to go on the wish list. Many businesses will give specialty items, and many households will find new homes for unused things, and the schools get helped significantly. The library does this, too, as well as the humane society. It's pretty amazing what will be donated, when the need is actually known.

JessTrev said...

Hmmm - I will have to scout around for a DC equivalent. Great idea! I got burned a while back when the secretary at a local elementary school sniffed in disdain at my used file folders and hanging files (which I'd happily scavenged from my university - shoot, I used to dumpster dive in El Cerrito because they had open recycling bins and what better way to store teaching supplies than in giant cans? but I digress). That's why I switched to freecycle, since I know the recipients want the stuff. Which is the beauty of your links. Thanks!

kale for sale said...

Thanks for thinking outside of the box; for looking at what we can do instead of what we can't do. You've turned my head on its side. (That a good thing.)

Green Bean said...

Melinda: Isn't that a great link! I thought of you and our other Seattle friends when I stumbled on that one. Happy giving.

Joyce: Great example. I know I, for one, find it easier to give when I know exactly what an organization is looking for.

Jess: I hear ya. I wish everyone would embrace the salvaged file folders and such. I'm a freecycle-aholic but I found out about your county's wish list last weekend and how some of the things I purged just last week could have helped a shelter for abused women or the local senior center. I think it's worth it to dig around a bit on the web and see what need there is. Then, if there's nothing specific, freecycle. I have lots of people pick up from freecycle that respond on behalf of charitable organizations or schools too.

Katrina: I think we're at a point on this planet when we need some real out of the box thinking. I'm glad this was helpful. Now pick your head back up. ;-)

organicneedle said...

I updated my NYC charity list today for anyone who is interested.

Crunchy Christian Mom said...

What a great idea to put more thought into what and to whom we're giving. Our homeschool group is gathering up things specifically for families in a local trailer park, who are likely struggling to make ends meet and clothe their children.


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