Merry December: Giving Tuesday

credit: me; a care package for deployed military - it's more work than it looks like... at least for me

credit: me; a care package for deployed military – it’s more work than it looks like… at least for me

I hadn’t heard of “Giving Tuesday” until the last day or two. As it turns out, it’s planned for this event to open the giving season, which most people generally think of as December given all the holidays. This is the second time this event has taken place and I love the concept.

Having read this site, I got some insight into this new phenomenon. From what I read, Giving Tuesday is a response to opening the giving season by following up Black Friday and Cyber Monday with a day of giving. Personally, I love this! I love the idea of having a day to make up for all the greed that tends to show up on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I guess the idea is to support nonprofit organizations on this day. That’s definitely a great way to give back.

Well, I’d like to think I did my part for supporting nonprofits. I’ve already talked with many of you about my love of volunteering. I did so in college and my current project is with a group called Soldiers’ Angels. I participate with this group by writing letters to deployed men and women. I also help with sending care packages when I can. This brings me to today’s story. I’ve adopted soldiers in the past and the deal there is to write to that person every week and at least one or two packages a month. Thus far it’s been easier for me money-wise and time-wise to purchase packages through the organization. They also do the shipping for you, etc. It’s a very nice option and the group does provide nice packages.

The thing about creating your own packages though, is there can be a personal touch added. Some personality can be seen in the package if you do it yourself and that’s better. Recently, it became known that there were many military folks in need of one time care packages. I really wanted to help but I was and am strapped for money. I never responded to the posts on the forum but then I just kept seeing the request for people to help and I felt bad. I then got this idea. I think it ended up working out but it turned out to be more work than I thought. I have no regrets and I’ll probably do it again some time. It was work, but it was worth it.

My brilliant idea? Okay maybe not brilliant or original exactly, but I finally thought to myself, I live in a city chalk full of really nice people who like to help out when they can. I figured I could get a few folks together and it can be care packages by committee. I had several ladies choose to sign up, give me money and it was up to me to handle picking out the items, set up the packages and handle the mailing. I needed to handle the mailing for security purposes. The group only gives out addresses to those registered with the group, which makes total sense.

credit: me; the end result of shopping, packing and filling out lots of forms - totally worthwhile

credit: me; the end result of shopping, packing and filling out lots of forms – totally worthwhile

Well, I managed to get enough ladies to want to help that I figured we could pick up three names. There was certainly enough money and materials (one woman did her own shopping for snacks and she was amazing! I hope one day to get a care package from her ha!) for three people. The only thing I hadn’t counted on was the cost of shipping… well I did to a point. I totaled the money, figured out about how much I could afford to spend on each package and still have enough to do flat rate boxes. When I went to actually box the stuff up though, I made the mistake of buying the wrong boxes and so long story short… had to get new boxes, undo all my packaging I had done in three boxes, rebox everything into six flat rate boxes instead because they’re smaller than the other ones, and this also meant having to refill out all the customs forms.

The customs forms expect detailed information but they only have enough space to place four items (the forms request that you list all the items included in the package). This gets to be a lot of work when there’s lots of different kinds of items. Each box had two to three forms and there were six boxes. I may no get carpel tunnel. I wouldn’t take it back for a second though. These boxes, with some luck, get to these folks by Christmas and they’ll have some nice treats. Hopefully they’ll have a smile for a day or two while being so far from home, serving their country. They make a lot of sacrifices for us, having to write out a bunch of forms and having to rebox everything is nothing.

I did learn some lessons though. There was a way to have cut out some costs and I’ll have to better plan out how to do the packages in a way that’s more useful. This was my first effort being the lead in this type of work and I loved it. I will need to do better planning but that’s the thing about first time efforts… there’s usually a learning curve. So that’s what I did for Giving Tuesday. What did you do? If you didn’t make it this year, what will you do next year? Or maybe in the coming months?

So as long as we’re noting interesting days in December here are some things to remember:

• Today is also “National Roof-Over-Your-Head” Day

• The first successful heart transplant happened in 1967

Here’s to keeping up the Merry December!

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3 responses to “Merry December: Giving Tuesday

  1. you do live in a nice city because if a journalist came to me asking for money to buy care packages I wouldn’t trust em to spend all the money on the packages…my and my cynical mind

    • *shaking my head* Kenneth, I’m a journalist and I’m nowhere near as cynical as you lol. That’s a shame. Actually for a journalist I’m probably far too optimistic lol. Oh well. You also have an unfair view of journalists. We’re not all a bunch of crap people you know. I know good people who happen to be journalists and truth be told, too many of them are cynical like you to do that kind of thing lol so it’s not likely you’d even be asked by a journalist. Just saying. 🙂

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