In case you haven’t been to your mailbox with a wheelbarrow lately, you may not have brought in all the letters that are soliciting money in their “year end drive.”
If you have been to your mailbox, you will know what I am talking about.
We have been inundated with requests for our capital—that is, not just money, but stocks, bonds, annuities, and blood.
It started back in September, about the time new cars are offered at “ridiculous low prices” and has continued unabated since. We have given some money to at least one of the solicitors, who then sold our name—along with countless others—to similar beseeching agencies.
We are, for example, well-known to hospitals and treatment centers throughout Texas and perhaps the continental U.S. (no letters from Alaska or Hawaii yet). The Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, for example, has implored us to “join the fight to end cancer” by donating to the American Cancer Society. We are assured that there are numerous ways to support and give because “we’re at a unique time in cancer history.” Otis W. Brawley, MD, who is the Chief Medical Officer for the society says that they are “doubling our [their] research over the next five years” but only if we help them fast-forward the progress.
I had hardly finished reading Sloan Kettering when I noticed a letter from St. Jude in the pile. They have hospitals all over the U.S. and are ranked 4th best in Texas. That gives me some pause: who are the best 3? Never mind, St. Jude is “one of the world’s most respected health care charities” with a child survival rate of from 20% to 80%. Quite a gap there, I think. We’ll send some money to them anyway.
Next letter is from the Smile Train, which sends out photos of kids who have gaps in their gums, lips and teeth and are not smiling. In fact, unless you are hard-hearted, you will donate immediately—surgeons are waiting to help! All they need is more money.
There are many other health related groups awaiting your (my) donation: the heart association, lung, liver, pancreas, kidney, lower intestine—you get the picture. Name a body part and there will be an institution or association awaiting your donation.
The only health-related groups not asking for money are the drug companies. They know we will be benefitting them, so they fund advertising on TV and in magazines. Pick up any magazine, but especially those that older folk may read, and you will find a prescription for whatever ails you. The name of the medication is generally unpronounceable, but the possible side effects are not: vomiting, loss of vision, dizziness, thinner or thicker blood, occasional, but massive, diarrhea, weight loss, weight gain, incontinence, high blood pressure—or low if necessary—even ingrown toenails.
But we are still opening todays mail: this time for the Paralyzed Vets, the Wounded Warriors, and the occasional healthy soldier, one who needs money to get home for Christmas to see his sick grandmother. The stories are passionate and heart-rendering. The veterans are standing at attention and saluting the flag or, if necessary, the president, and airplanes are pictured overhead, with tanks in the background. You are, it is suggested, an ungrateful third class citizen who should be living in Canada, if you do not donate big time.
Alongside the soldiers march the police officers’ societies, the sheriffs of the local county, the firefighters of the best brigade and the families of the fallen officers. A gift of $25 is always appreciated, but anything less may lead to a fire or theft in your neighborhood.
Every soliciting agency—and I have not mentioned but a fraction of them—will give you something in “appreciation” for your donation, mainly Christmas seals or address labels. I have a stack of them that is now 12 inches high and growing.
A new ploy now is to send the would-be benefactor 5 or 10 cents, with the hope or belief that no one would be so cheap as to keep the change and not sent some dollars in exchange. So far, since September, we have collected $11.35 in change. One college did send us a dollar bill, but asked for $500 in return. Hillsdale college sends their little newssheet Imprimis “free” each month, as well as an occasional copy of the Declaration of Independence. They also offer tours, but usually start at around $3,000 for 10 days, leaving from the West Coast.
Speaking of colleges, I went to a small one in the east and a middle-sized one in the west, but both would like fairly large contributions. They put boxes for you to check the amount you choose: $100, $250, $350 and “other”. I think they got the idea from TV evangelists, only their boxes to check start at $1,000. To be fair, a couple that I went to (Cornell and the Australian National University) have never asked me for money—I think they must have me listed as “missionary” and “not worth the bother.”
Sometimes churches get in on the act: St Andrews is installing new stained glass windows and we can help by giving a lot of money, although even a little bit might get our initials in a book in the narthex. The YMCA once had a way to get money by putting your name on a brick—for a fee—which people could then walk on.
Billy Graham always needs money, although he is almost 100 years old now. He does have two large dogs to feed and care for. His son Franklin heads the Samaritan’s Purse to deposit money in. Even though Tony Evans has started a new training school, he only asks for money for his Urban Alternative. “Alternative to what” I think, but don’t ask.
The old standbys—the Salvation Army and the United Way—are always in need of money. The Sallies (as they are know in Australia) have people ringing bells at the entrance to shopping malls, with a large red pot, swinging on a chain, to place money in. The idea of the United Way was to “unite” the offerings so that the donor could give just once and it would be divided among the listed charities. However, when I found out that some of the charity presidents get more than pilots, soldiers, police and my local congressman, I decided to cross that particular group off my list.
Dogs and birds—dead or alive— also want my money. The Canine Society need to repair the swollen ears of a dog they found in the gutter. For $19.95 a month I can adopt it and a free bath will be thrown in, along with some flea powder. But “real” and consecrated adoption agencies are at the zoo, so go there first or visit their website for more information. The Humane Society is waiting for your help too—any kind of animal will be grateful.
Well, this is the season for giving and there are lots of people and places waiting for our gift. There is even a “charitable gift” website that lists all the possible organizations that may not have visited your mailbox (although I doubt it) and provides the results for “any state” (and I am not making the “results” up): places like Disaster Relief Charities (18,072 results), Youth Development Charities (202 results), Civil Rights & Equality Charities (7,493 results), Sports & Athletics charities (125,428 results), the Arts charities (112,191 results), Environmental Conservancy Charities (33,124 results), and so on.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to stick to Disease Prevention & Research Charities (25,512 results), Religious Charities (1,297,959 results), Hunger & Homelessness Charities (35,820 results) and the occasional Wounded Warrior. That is enough giving for one season and is more than my wheelbarrow can carry—I may need a tank and weapons carrier.