Thursday, December 4, 2008


There shouldn't be a season involved with charity.  Seems like the current one is, though, so it's on my mind lately.

I donated $10 earlier this week to Child's Play via the Desert Bus for Hope crew.  Those folks really have their hearts in the right places: they realized that together, they could do something silly and (reasonably) painless that would make life happier for many children in hospitals.  All it took was their getting a few days off work so they could hang out together, and a willingness to put themselves through minor, temporary hardships or embarrassments.  Their simple act of ridiculous, self-imposed "torture" earned around $24,000 for charity last year.  It may have earned over $70,000 this year.  That's a LOT of Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii consoles.  That's a lot of video games.  The best part is that it's part of an even larger total given by people who think that children with serious illnesses already have it hard enough, people that want to try and make those kids smile.

FOX has recently adapted a UK show called "Secret Millionaire" for audiences here in the States.  The premise is that a millionaire spends a week living in a very tough, impoverished urban area.  They have none of their possessions and only a welfare budget (which came out to $150/week in the first episode).  At the end of the week, they help the people who helped them by doling out at least $100,000 of their own money.  It's a good show; you can watch the first episode on Hulu.  I imagine it'll be a little frustrating for the folks that were helped when tax season comes around; a $25,000 check will probably bump any one of them into a higher tax bracket for the year (even if only $12,000 of it is taxable).  It's nothing like the property tax they'd  to pay on an extreme home makeover, though.  The cash can do a lot of good in the meantime.

V. and I don't have a lot, but I happily put a little bit toward a cause I appreciate.  Don't just think about giving to a worthy charity sometime soon.  Give a little bit now.  Give a little bit later.  Give a little after that.  Volunteer, too, or just call and ask how you can help.  These are groups founded by, run by, and staffed by the people who will be there for you if you ever need them.

A flipside note: The Slackmistress was (fairly mildly) harrassed by a door-to-door charity worker today.  If someone says they don't have money to give you at the moment, don't go and call them a bad person.  A little statement like that makes a damned lot of assumptions, especially when life happens to all of us.  Also, if you're volunteering for (or being paid by) a charity, aren't you supposed to understand being down on one's luck, and shouldn't you want to help?  Gah.

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