This post was made possible by Stonyfield. Stonyfield gave us $50 to help with any good deeds of our choosing, and we added our own money on top of that to extend our own love campaign.
It seems dramatic to say a fog filled our hearts in the second week of November, but it’s pretty much true, and it feels like all we can do to help overcome that is to give. Last month, we gave to causes important to us politically and socially. This month, we wanted to do something more tangible to make life easier for others not as fortunate as we are. Two different friends of mine actively post about their personal love campaigns on Facebook – both focused on helping others, one more about uplifting spirits and the other in more direct campaigns, like supporting the tribes in South Dakota. Their messages are uplifting and inspiring. Spreading joy is what this season is about and here’s how we participated in that:
We started with the obvious: donating food.
There is a discount grocery store in town and I went there to shop knowing that I’d be able to buy more for the money there, and that discount doesn’t mean junk food. Organic food is available at this store, as are fresh fruits and vegetables. I bought the standard soups, rice, and pasta, but I remembered to buy a lot of herbs and spices. A friend had told me that many food pantries don’t have herbs and spices, yet anyone who cooks, knows those things are important. Oregano, rosemary, chives, and flavor blends all went into my cart. I walked out with two full bags of food that cost less than a single dinner for my family.
Next: Christmas gifts for charity.
A local shelter made a plea on Facebook for gift cards to give to teens at Christmas. I have a teen and definitely feel for those too old for toys, but still young enough to really want something under the tree with their name. When looking on Amazon, I saw that charities were asking for cologne to serve as gifts for teenagers. The gift card option sounds (and smells) much better to me, so we helped with that program.
Then, I found books and craft kits on sale that I grabbed. Then, we remembered that box where we put possible gift items. It’s the box of things my kids received but didn’t want or things I bought on sale without a recipient in mind – that box was raided for items perfect for kids or teens. I have a bad habit of double buying books for my kids. I’ll buy a book and if Amazon does not remind mind me that I’ve already bought it or if they read it from the library, I will buy it again. All of that was passed along.
Moving onto a bigger item: new shoes.
My son walked into my office wearing his ratty shoes. Like many kids, he’s really hard on his shoes and he wears them until they are completely disgusting. Almost repulsive. But that is all by choice. He can get new shoes whenever he wants, but he chooses to keep his worn shoes until his toes get cramped. Some kids aren’t so lucky and remembering a charity from our Girl Scout days, I bought a pair of shoes for My New Red Shoes. It’s a group that helps provide new shoes for homeless and low income children that is smart enough to have an Amazon wish list. Boom. New, name brand shoes on the way, directly to the charity.
Finally, something truly direct.
I had a gift card for the discount grocery store that I was determined to pass along. My plan had been to pay for the person behind me in line, but my decision to shop at 8 a.m. on a Friday meant I was alone in line. I looked around the store amid the staff restocking shelves, and couldn’t find anyone. When checking out, I thought about giving the gift card to the cashier to pass along to a customer in need, but that is when the automatic doors opened, and in walked a young mom with two small kids. The youngest was in the cart and the other was slowly walking along, asking her a million questions, and I could tell by the look on the mom’s face that she was already done for the day, even though it was only 8 a.m. I can remember being in her place and feeling exhausted while struggling to wrangle two small kids around a grocery store. This was my person.
“Excuse me, but may I give you this gift card?” I explained how much money was on the gift card and how to use it (which sounds silly, but the discount grocery store has a clunky redemption process). Her eyes widened and she said, “What?! WOW!” She thanked me several times, and I walked away as her little son asked what happened. Out of all the money we’ve given away in the last few weeks, this was the best. I don’t know her financial situation to know how much she needed that gift card, if at all, but I do know she appreciated it.
The mom with the gift card was two weeks ago and I still feel good about that moment. I may have benefitted from it more than anyone.