Getting My Irish Up

This is a copy of the e-mail I sent this afternoon to one of the myriad organizations whose list I’m on to solicit for funds.

As you can see, it really “got my Irish up” when it arrived. Good thing today is “Grouch Day,” ha!


Dear Sirs:

Once again, I have received in the mail a package from you requesting a donation. This time, it was marked “Second Notice.” What’s that all about, I ask???

“Second Notice” sounds to me as if you’re a bill collector, and I’m a deadbeat. I am not.

“Second Notice” implies that you’ve tried before and failed. That tells me you’re doing the same thing — sending out multiple notices in hopes of guilting people to give — and that’s a waste of everybody’s time and somebody’s resources.

“Second Notice” has a coercion feeling to it, as if I’m expected to donate. I am not.

I’m self-employed. Thus, I don’t have a wealth of surplus money lying around for me to dole out willy-nilly. I work hard for my money and am frankly tired of all you organizations trying desperately to cut me out of the picture and grab some for yourselves.

Yes, I donate to charity, plenty of charities. But I’ll do that on my schedule, not yours, thank you very much.

I’ve had it up to here with your organization and regardless of how much I donate, yours won’t be on my list. You might as well STOP sending me stuff and save your efforts for somebody else.


(my name)


Will it help? Will it stop the onslaught of “dunning” notices I receive?

I doubt it. But if I can make a dent in the stack, or remove a few from the list, I’ll be happy.

Most of us receive far too much junk mail, whether it’s in our home postal box or via e-mail. We complain about it, throw it into the trash, and move on to something else.

Today I decided I’d had enough. I don’t begrudge an organization for trying to solicit funds. Many times, that’s how they keep afloat. But forcing people to give isn’t charity.

It’s coercion. And that’s against the law.

What do you think?

Paring Down, Kind Of

This weekend, I finally tackled a chore that I’ve been putting off for years — cleaning the closet.

Inspired by my friend Lynne, who maintains that we really don’t need all the stuff hanging/folded up/taking up space in our closets, I decided it was way past time to beard the lion.

With the Sheltie looking on and wearing a confused face, I pulled out armload after armload of hanging items. Skirts, dresses, suits, slacks, blouses began to stack up on my bed as my brain categorized them based on the following criteria:

  1. Did it fit?
  2. Did I still like it?
  3. Was it even remotely in style?
  4. Was it in good condition?
  5. And, perhaps of utmost importance, had I worn it within the last two or three years?

Surprisingly, many of the things lurking in my closet hadn’t seen the light of day since Domer was a wee lad (and remember, he’s twenty-one now!). Those, obviously, had to go.

Others were gifts — wrong size, wrong color, wrong style — and had only been “gently” worn, probably to appease the giver.

Still others were items I’d loved. And worn practically to their threads. But somehow couldn’t bear to part with — then. Now, out they went.

I found a ginormous sack from Kohl’s and started filling it. I loaded in old blue jeans, crop pants and tops. I even added a few belts that I knew I’d never wear again.

Who knew that belts designed for waists wouldn’t fit around hips?!

When the sack was full, I dug out a bag from JCPenney and started filling it. In went a plethora of dress slacks, skirted suits, and better quality skirts (things I’m thinking might be better for a resale shop than for charity).

I lugged the bags downstairs and put them where I’d have to see them regularly — my system for “guilting” myself into doing something I know I should do but am hesitant about.

Then I went back to my room to survey the aftermath.

Wow! Lots more hanging space, lots of nice hangers. Yet still, way more stuff than I could ever hope to wear.

I get a warm and fuzzy feeling, knowing my clothing will probably go toward a person who needs it. Perhaps it will help them find a job. Or keep them warm this winter. Or give them confidence to leave a bad situation.

And no, this doesn’t give me an excuse to go shopping. Who needs an excuse for that?!

Charitable giving

At this “giving” time of the year, I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about the amount of money donated to charities.

Whether it’s religious organizations, academic foundations, health-related (seems there’s an association for every disease known to mankind!), the environment, or a multitude of other causes and interests, statistics show 70 percent of Americans donate to charity in any one year, and the average amount contributed is 3 percent of their income (unless they’re totally out of a job). I didn’t make this up; it’s according to statistics.

In fact, nonprofits took in $1 trillion in revenue for 2006 alone.

That’s a LOT of money, folks!

Doesn’t it seem reasonable to wonder what happens to all that money? I think so.

Most solicitations I receive in the mail come with fine print on the back, indicating what portion of the monies collected goes for administrative expenses, marketing, staff salaries, etc. You ought to read that before you donate, especially if you’re concerned whether the people actually needing the money get the money. Most charities, I’m sure, try to be frugal with their resources, but at this time of year, one can’t be too careful in avoiding scams!

In addition to cash donations, of course, are contributions of goods, services, and time. Some families choose to work a soup kitchen during the holidays; others donate to Goodwill or Toys for Tots; still others send sons and daughters overseas as missionaries, or build homes with Habitat for Humanity, or work the red kettles of the Salvation Army. The options are practically endless.

Why do people donate? Obviously, some do it because of the tax write-off, but others give because they believe in the cause or organization, and it makes them feel good to contribute.

St. James wrote: ‘Faith without works is dead.’ It’s hard to be a person of faith without giving. We can’t out-give God, who gives so richly to us! Catholic tradition has always called for service to humankind; many other religions also encourage their members to donate time and talents for the good of others.

But since we’re giving so much, has it ever crossed your mind: how come there’s still poverty in our world??