Food Oriented Charity

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Master Chef
Sep 4, 2004
Galena, IL
Once upon a time, many years ago, I was in the final throes of planning a (for me) big party; my annual tree-trimming party. Out of the blue, a few days before the party, I got a call from a woman I didn't know too well; the wife of an officer who worked for my husband.

They had some personal problems that year; a child they had adopted had been torn from them. So they'd volunteered to serve food at a local shelter. They thought they'd volunteered to SERVE the food. As is often the case with volunteer work, they got taken for a ride ... they were expected to PROVIDE THE FOOD.

This acquaintance found a corporate sponsor to buy the turkeys, but was getting desperate. She called and asked if I could buy something. I heard out her list and said I'd buy all the Stove Top she needed. Then I went about, planning for my party in three or four days' time.

An hour a light bulb went off.

I called her back, and asked for the list of food.

I called everyone who had RSVPd on my guest list and asked for an item (even if only one can of cranberry sauce!!).

An hour later, my husband's commander called and said he'd heard what I was doing. I replied, NOT ME, I'm just helping out. He asked for the list of food, posted it on the bulletin board with a box beneith it.

Many of you don't know what a bulletin board is (or at least was) in military life -- you HAVE to read it.

At my tree trimming party, there were boxes and boxes of food. Ever since then I've "charged" admission to my Xmas parties.

To my great embarassment, I've let my own tradition fall by the wayside since we've moved here. I'm resurrecting it this year. Many times a group (usually 20-40 people) have filled two or more grocery baskets of food. Many times people who couldn't come to the party dropped by to give us food.

I always remember the name of the woman who got me started on this.

Her name is Joy.
Note that donations to your local "Salvation Army" offices will provide Christmas Dinners to the homeless, the deprived, the "up against a brick" families...

What sense is it to hae $100 left in the bank account, and be eating like Kings, if there are the poor, eating (or not eating!) fried cat food, and explaining to children why Santa Could not stop at their home on Christmas Eve?

I'll be damned if I will go to the expense of so much as a jar of olives for Christmas these days, if I cannot contribute "in like amount" the cost of our meal, that those less fortunate have something...

Funny enough, there always seems "cash enough" around or about, to make all the family members happy enough with what they get, and what they eat...and to "survive into January" and beyond, regardless...

But having been "poor" at a few points in time (fortunately without kids or a wife!) I do include my prayers at Christmas Dinner Grace for those that I can contribute to,...and this is my Gift to expressed if you ever watched Henry Winkler do "Arthur Fonzerrelli" on "Happy Days"...where he is at last invited to "Ritchie's" family Christmas, instead of being left marooned, alone and abandoned, and looks up and says "Dear God...THANKS..."

During a desperate time for my family, the Salvation Army just showed up.

They asked for nothing and gave all they could.

I will not ask anyone to contribute, but it is a charity that I consider quite worthwhile.
thanks claire, people like you and lifter are great examples of true christmas spirit...
My cousin started an annual Thanksgiving dinner for the poor and organized it for many many years until he just could not physically do it any longer.

He also made his home into a place where donations of every kind were accepted and distributed to the underpriviledged.

He planted a large garden every year and anyone who was in need could have any of the produce. He called it God's little half acre.
Every year here in Eugene, the postman puts a plastic grocery bag in your mail box, on the bag is "FOOD FOR LANE COUNTY" and we are to put however much we can of non perishable food items in it and it is distributed to the needy families in Eugene and surrounding cities. Also, there are drop off boxes at various sites around the city. Also, St. Vincent de Paul has a hugh holiday dinner and serves 2500 people on TG and Christmas. THere are also several places around town who fix dinner and serve as many as they can a hot meal. It is heartwarming to see a community come together and think of those less fortunate that ourselves. When I was in California I used to volunteer occasionally to serve the meals and pass out gifts.
Buckytom, I thank you for a compliment I probably don't deserve, but gratefully accept!

If you can't be "good" as a person, at Christmas, to your fellow man or woman, when can you?

My personal support to those of the Sally Ann's, who "find" people in need at this time of year, separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak (ie delete the fakers!) and just "HELP"; no questions asked! No need for thanks!

If you find yourself with a "buck or two" that you can spare, here's one group that will absolutely make sure it is used, wisely and with care, where it will do the most good...and as "auntdot" will verify, will bless your "unknown name" is first amongst the virtues...

I personally have a hard time parting with money for charities .... because I know to many people who make rather huge salaries working for charities. They are all good people, do not get me wrong. I just hate to think that the check I write to a charity is paying my friends' paycheck. They deserve it and they are doing good work, but I just don't want to personally pay them. But I always feel food is the answer for my charitable impulses. I've thrown this Christmas party at various locations around the country and it works for us. Once we were new to a neighborhood (Old Town Alexandria) and lived right on the cusp between wealthy and the projects. We're military, so we fall right into that cusp! Anyway, that neighborhood in Alexandria has 'poor' churches and 'rich' ones (for example, across the stree as the "poor" Catholic church, a few blocks away was the "rich" one ... ditto other religions). I called the rectory and made sure someone would be there, and we drove over and dropped about enough food to feed a family of six or so for a week, then ran away. It was great fun.
I note that donations to the Salvation Army "Christmas Appeal" are "net/net" into the purpose they are donated for. The organization is largely funded by the S.A. Church, United Way, etc.

The wages paid to their fulltime employees are modest, at best. They much appreciate outside volunteer help, by the way, and make no effort to persuade you to "their" church...

They actively seek out the poor and disadvantaged, and should be in no way compered with the many other "charities" that are notorious for leaking off donations to the pockets of their executives, etc...

Finally, note it was the Salvation Army that (historically) set up canteens and benefits for servicemen and women overseas, including some (but by no means all!) "boxes" or "hampers"...for POW's, refugees etc besides...

This is one organization that it pretty squeaky clean in all aspects.

I would again encourage members on this List to contribute where they find it difficult or impossible to donate directly to Churches or Food Banks (or do both!)(even better!).

If I can prevail another moment, if you are donating foodstuffs (ie clearing out the pantry of stuff that isn't getting eaten, or better yet, buying stuff at the grocery store and dropping it into the Food Bank donation bin (here, our OPP -oops our Ontario Provincial Police, Ontario's answer to the RCMP-will donate their time on a weekend to prompt food "collection") this case, please remember the basics of what the "bank" is looking for...protein items like tuna (also salmon) in cans; baked beans, pasta, macaroni, peanut butter, rice, canned veggies, canned or bottled fruit juices and the might want to consider the mother with a lactose intolerant baby, and buy a can or three of the soy equivalent for babies; specialty pablums and the like, noting these are a little more costly...but noting the affect on my or your pocketbook is much, much less than on said single mother, or working poor mother with a child with afflictions like this...

Canada's Welfare System does not recognise this basic fact, and, while I'm not familiar with the USA system, I doubt it does either, reducing these parents and their babies to having to access existence through charity, from people like you and I...

So when you watch Bill Murray in "Scrooged" for the umpteenth time this year, remember that its not only Christmas, its all year through...

Okay, I've finished my little "rant" for the evening, but certainly we can remember that some of our citizens will need a "hand up" more than a "hand out"...

Cash donations are a tax deduction, so probably cost you, in the long run, about 60 cents on the dollar...


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