Rants, Musings, and Mental Meanderings of a former Conservative Christian Mother. Standing Strong against ignorance, preconceptions, labels and excessive housework. Celebrating original thought, religious freedom, parenthood, free enterprise and chocolate.

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's Time to GIVE!!!

This is the season we should really have our thoughts focused on giving. Hopefully, this goes beyond hitting the malls and racking up HUGE credit card balances purchasing more junk for people who don't need it. I'm talking about giving to those truly in need! My daughter absolutely loves when the Salvation Army bell ringers start their seasonal donation drive. For those of you who complain about the noise, avert your eyes and rush in quickly to avoid them - SHAME ON YOU!!! Grab a handful of change out of your car ashtray, let your kids learn to have a compassionate, charitable spirit, and for Pete's sake smile at the bell ringer and wish them a Merry Christmas. We were at Wal-mart last week, and Elianna asked if she could ring the bell. The lady handed it to her, and Elianna would run up to people and shake it at them like she was mugging them. (I think she broke a donation record for that three minutes!)

Other ideas for keeping our focus on the right kind of giving this season:

Go through your children's toys, and donate (or throw away, depending on their condition) at least 1/3 of them. You will get at least that much for Christmas anyway, so now is the time to get that playroom or toy area cleaned out. If it's out-of-date, broken, ignored, etc... don't hang on to it. Children are actually happier with fewer toys and an organized space than with overwhelming piles of toys stacked up everywhere. Keep it simple, and teach your child to be unselfish.

Grab a box or bag, label it "Donations," and leave it somewhere accessible. As you go about your daily routine, toss everything into it you can do without. Go through your closets and get rid of that outfit you will never fit into again, isn't the right color for you, never fit right anyway, or that you have worn too many times and has seen better days. Get rid of those extra things in your cupboards that take up room, even though you haven't used them for 4 years. You keep telling yourself, "But I just might need them!" Well, if you do, borrow one from someone else. Throw yours in the box to donate!! Again, after the holidays you will have more useless junk, so now is the time to purge. Take the box out to your vehicle, and next time you are out running errands drop it off at your favorite charity. Or, even easier, call Purple Heart or Salvation Army and they will drive to your house and pick it up for you! How much easier can they make it?!?! Don't forget to get an estimate of the value so you can write it off on your taxes. You have till the end of this year to claim your donation, so do it now!!

**Click here for a link that will give you a value estimate on your donations. Most people grossly underestimate the value of their donations, so make sure you get a fair estimate so you can pay a few dollars less at tax time.**

Get involved in one of those "sponsor a child's Christmas" programs. Many churches offer these, and you can either buy gifts for a specific child or for a children's group home. At our church, you can get a child's picture with their name, age, clothing sizes, and favorite color. These are children living in homeless shelters, and often they do not have families or families with the means to get them Christmas gifts. We are sponsoring a 6-year-old boy this year, and Elianna is so excited to go shopping and pick him out a new, warm winter coat, and some pajamas. We will wrap it up, put his name on it, and on Christmas while many spoiled children gripe and complain about not getting exactly what they want, that little boy will be grateful to have something warm (and new) to wear.

It is a scientifically proven fact: People who hoard things and have junk stashed all over are actually more selfish than people who are willing to let things go! This is ironic to me, since the people with stashes seem to have more to give. In fact, there is a higher depression rate among people who do not give to any charitable cause, and a low depression rate among people who give everything away! (I am trying to find the article I read about this - I'll post it if I find it.) So, keep your spirits up and GIVE GIVE GIVE stuff away this Christmas!! I promise you'll feel so good if you do.


Melanie said...

Here's a question... How do we decide what to give away if the kids play with EVERYTHING on a mostly daily basis?!?!?

Angela said...

You can officially give yourself a good pat on the back for choosing engaging, developmentally appropriate, stimulating toys for your children!!!

Part of the reason we have too many is that I have not sorted their toys since Selah was born. So, I have baskets of teethers, rattles, cloth books, etc... which sit around un-played with and need a new home.

If you still think you need to get rid of some stuff, this is what I do: When I am faced with a decision to give anything away, I don't ask, "Will I ever be able to find a use for this?" or "Will anyone I know or ever come in contact with ever be able to use this?" because the answer is always YES!! and the clutter accumulates. Instead, ask yourself "DO I absolutely need or love this? Can I possibly do without this?" Of course, with my kids' stuff, I answer for them! (You won't believe how neat their drawers are since I took this approach to their clothes and got rid of all those seperates that don't match anything!)

Back to the toy issue, you also apparently don't have an excessive amount of toys if your children can find time to play with most of them daily. My kids don't play with 1/2 their toys daily, so I am packing some of it away to bring back out later, and the rest is getting donated.

A donation tip I just got from a social worker - find a local homeless shelter or shelter for battered women. (Or something along these lines - there are a lot of variations.) Often children escape to these places with barely the clothes on their back, and the shelter will let them keep the toys when they leave. This creates a constant need for donations of nice, gently used toys - so there's an idea!