"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.