I honestly do not need more STUFF for Mother's day. If I got a day without fighting, where someone else did the dishes, my kids played all day, and (okay, get me some flowers) Cheerios in bed, I'll still be the luckiest girl in the world. So if your mom knows how much STUFF she has, consider some flowers and a donation in her name to one of these charities.
We are all, each and every one of us in the blogosphere, with our computers, our heat, our food, so lucky. I read an amazing post by my blogfriend Sayre, Which you can read here.
You know that brother-in-law who has everything? Bake him some cookies to unwrap, and buy him a cow, or a goat.
Is there a veteran on your list? Give them the privilege of buying a wounded soldier some needed toiletries as they recover in the hospital.
Does someone in your family love kids? Buy mosquito nets for a mother who loves her kids in Africa.
Here are thirteen ways you can beat the Christmas Machine that starts grinding us up in July (not as much of an exaggeration as it used to be!). I hope one of these will strike a chord as something eminently DO-able this Christmas season, without invoking Sally Struthers or that nice bearded man who creeps me out with the children's photos he pimps.
1. This is the story of a goat that changed a girl's life, probably all of her families' lives, and quite possibly her entire village. It was made possible by Heifer. (No, not that cow that cut you off in traffic, she was a heffa, this is www.Heifer.org)
2. Send things to the wounded soldiers at Walter Reed. I copied this straight from an email my boss sent me.
WISH LIST FOLLOWS (Please, no used items or money.):
1. Prepackaged candy, cookies, and crackers (no homemade) (See NOTE Below)
2. Weight lifting gloves (for wheelchair patients - and there are many of them)
3. Pillows stuffed with polystyrene beads (very soft)
4. Postage Stamps
5. Pre-Paid Phone Cards (120 Minute and up)
6. Flannel Pajamas
7. Shoes (size 9-12)
8. Sweatshirts / Jackets (zipped & hooded)
9. Break-away trousers (snaps or zips along legs)
10. Coats & Jackets (cold weather)
11. Gloves (cold weather)
12. Scarves (cold weather)
13. Backpacks (all black with single strap across the chest)
14. Carry-on size luggage (with wheels if possible)
15. Electric Razors
17. Credit Cards, Prepaid (Gas, Gift cards & Food for Giant & Safeway nearby)
18. Portable DVD Players
19. DVDs -Action to Comedy (use common sense as far as content and subject)
20. Portable CD Players and CD’s
The wounded, being treated at the hospital, include all branches of the Armed Forces (Army, Marines, Sailors, Air Force, National Guard, and Coast Guard, both men and women). The Family Assistance Center provides assistance to the wounded during their stay at the hospital and the family member (normally spouse or mother of the wounded individual).
Because of the land mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), there are many amputees in wheelchairs that must be pushed from place-to-place within the hospital and grounds, and from their quarters to the various clinics. When wounds are from mines and IEDs, they include multiple wounds to all parts of the body involving all clinics from A to Z.
Because of the expedient method to get them from the battlefield to WRAMC, the wounded arrive with nothing. Their personal items are in Iraq or Afghanistan to be shipped to them later. Therefore, the wounded men and women need many critical items to sustain them. If you would like to contribute items, the address to mail the items to (or drop off items) is:
WALTER REED ARMY MEDICAL CENTER
MEDICAL FAMILY ASSISTANCE CENTER
BUILDING 2, 3RD FLOOR, ROOM 3E01
6900 GEORGIA AVENUE, N.W.
WASHINGTON, D.C. 2001
3. Nothing But Nets is an effort by Sports Illustrated Magazine, of all people. Mosquitoes still equal death in Africa, where children die of Malaria in astonishing numbers. This charity works with the World Heath Organization buying mosquito nets to protect the kids at night. I dunno, it was an editorial on the last page of the Honey's Sports Illustrated, and this piece, along with Sayre's blog, made me do this for my list this week. Even dumb jocks can save a life. With little to no effort, they can spare a mother's child from death. Not just sickness, DEATH. Incredible.
4. Any Soldier has so many opportunities to give back to our heroes. You can just have the kids write letters--Believe me, I know how tight a budget runs this time of year, but these men and women aren't home with their loved ones while we are home safe with ours. There are other opportunities listed here, and some very specific lists, but a letter? It costs virtually nothing but time and love.
5. The Salvation Army. You know those red kettles? They really DO do a lot of good. I went to school with a girl whose parents were in charge of the Salvation Army where I grew up. They helped people on a day to day basis, with a dedication that was truly admirable.
6. Um, could we all teach our kids the basic courtesies, and use them ourselves? Please and Thank you really could change the world, I think. Too many people have forgotten how and why to use them.
7. I read the best post at a blog that I lurk at every once in a while. So many people have addressed the Virginia Tech Tragedy, and done it well, but this post made me think of how we can salvage a lesson from such a horrific event, rather than point fingers.
If you do nothing else with this list, read this post.
8. Read the end of the Wednesday Hero post below, about the grandma raising her grandbaby. On top of being in the hospital, she has lost everything. Here's the story via the local CBS affiliate. I can't do the group trust exercise, I cannot imagine the guts and fear it took to fall straight out of that window.
Okay, Okay, I cheated. It's nowhere near thirteen. You can yell at me in comments. But go read #7.