Charity begins somewhere

For me, it begins at home. Sognatrice has a post up over at Bleeding Espresso about Kiva, a microlending organization, and has encouraged us to feature our own charities.

Here are two charities close to my heart and my stomach:

The Greater Boston Food Bank, the clearing house for Boston area food pantries. We had some lean years, which I’ve written about before. Free Lunch, Food Stamps, and USDA surplus food kept us going year-round, but in the fall and all through the winter, food pantries made a big difference. My mother never brought us with her to the pantries, but I remember her coming home the first Saturday of the month with her two bags of canned goods. It was usually staples– pasta, sauce, canned soup, tuna. We ate lots of tuna casserole and jello salad with fruit cocktail in the winter. Pretty much the only fresh vegetables we would eat would be iceberg lettuce and cello-pak tomatoes for “salad.” But every once in a while, there would be a treat– eggs, and a box of brownie mix, or some day-old doughnuts. The GBFB kept that local pantry stocked, and kept us fed. When I was older, and my Dad was making more money, and my mother was actually working a bit, we didn’t need the handouts, and my father’s girlfriend at the time was a big fan of The Walk for Hunger, a big annual fundraiser from which the GBFB was a major beneficiary. I would bring my fundraising sheet around school and church, and people would sponsor me, clucking to themselves about how generous a spirit I was. I never told them that I was doing the walk out of self-interest.

Globe Santa— the Boston Globe’s donation drive for toys and money to buy toys, so no one goes without something under the Christmas tree. We were pretty young the year we got a supplement to the few things my mother could afford, and I really don’t remember much about what we got, but I do remember having the real fear of nothing under the tree allayed by the big, brightly wrapped boxes. Now, there are so many more important things than Christmas gifts, and we’ve moved in my circle toward a collective charitable gift and/or a Yankee Swap or dinner out together, but back then, to a little one, facing the fear of having to make something up, to lie, when school vacation was over and you were asked “whadja get for Christmas?” the brightly wrapped boxes meant the salvage of a little self-esteem.

I’m hoping that our group gift will go to the GBFB this year, and that I’ll be able to make a personal gift to Globe Santa. I’ll be interested in reading about your pet charities.

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5 thoughts on “Charity begins somewhere

  1. Magpie

    Every year I send a check to the NY Times Neediest Cases, in the amount of my age. Because my birthday is at the end of December.I give other places too – but that’s the most idiosyncratic.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    We have always liked sponsoring kids at the nearest foundling hospital, and buying toys for The Marine Corps “Toys for Tots” The Marines get less and less toys each year, and have to really push just before Christmas to try and meet their goals. … and this year, with the lead paint on toys issue, people are deciding to forget Toys for Tots and give elsewhere. Food Banks are an excellent charity. Many have empty shelves and are almost desperate this year for donations. Some communities can’t even keep a food bank going. It is nothing to pick up a few extra items when shopping for the food bank, but when I have to drive a long distant to get to a food bank (and over a toll bridge) I opt for an easier method of giving, or wait til Dec when some local dropoff point for coats and food is advertised.The local women’s shelters are always in need of paper towels, bath tissue, cans of coffee, juice drinks, things you can buy in bulk if you shop at warehouse stores.

    Reply
  3. andrea_frets

    One of my best friends does the Walk for Hunger every year and it really impresses me. My pet charities (literally) are the Humane Society, ASPCA, and various other local and national animal organizations. I have a soft spot for critters and would do almost anything for them.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    I am a huge fan of Kiva. In fact, I have become somewhat addicted to heading over there and finding someone to help start a business. I think part of the attraction is being able to see how the individual is doing.This is a beautiful post. I remember the stress of going back to school and hoping you made the cut in the gift receiving department. Poignant.Mrs. G…I am having short term memory issues this morning and can’t remember my google password.

    Reply

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