December 26, 2011 by Melissa
I hope everyone had a safe and lovely holiday weekend! With our two year old and our baby girl, we had a wonderful time remembering the magic that this season can bring.
Several years ago my parents, my brothers and their wives, my husband and I decided that instead of buying each other gifts we would pick a charity and donate the money we would have spent on each other. We take turns picking charities and have had a great time with this new tradition. This year my parents picked a shelter for battered women and children in northern Minnesota. My mother had dropped off an employee of hers there recently and knew it would be a place that would benefit from a little extra at the holidays, especially with many local governments having to cut spending. She called the shelter to see what they would need-cash, gift cards, or items. They said they’d need cash as they then buy gift cards for the women to use locally at the grocery store, for prepaid cellphone minutes, for hotel rooms-things that their husbands/partners can’t take and find very useful. The woman my mother dropped off had her car taken, her phone taken and her paycheck taken from her and she had diapers and food to buy at the very least, no place to stay, no mode of transportation or even communication.
My mother then explained that any donation we made would be matched by the company my brother works for, so this year they’d be getting a total of $1,600. The woman started crying on the phone in gratitude. I can’t imagine seeing people day in and day out that desperately need a safe place to stay and the ability to provide for their kids and not having enough to help them. This would help them help these women and kids. Last week my mom stopped in to drop off our check and the women working there at the time got very emotional and asker my mom if she was santa. That made my month. They will be able to do so much with that money to help women feel safer and with a little bit of control back.
Over the years we’ve “adopted” a family that didn’t have money for presents (we each got a child to buy presents for-that was a lot of fun), given to Heifer International and donated to local food shelves. It really has been the best tradition and eases some of the shopping stress by having fewer people to buy for. My grandmother has also decided to join in so now we’re able to give even more.
Next year maybe we’ll pay off some strangers’ layaway accounts…what a fantastic story that was.
What charity would you donate to if you could? Do you have a favorite local organization?