Just a Penny Shy

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One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year is “Do something for charity.”  Because Thanksgiving and Christmas remind us to be kinder and more generous, and we like it, it feels good to help others, so we decide we’re going to do it throughout the year instead of just at the holidays, but then we get back to the daily grind and we forget.

So, this year we’re not going to forget, and our big project for the day is to do something for charity.  The charity is up to you, and what you do for them is up to you, but we’re going to throw some ideas out here to emphasize that everyone can do something. I’m going to apologize in advance for making this entry link heavy, because I know it doesn’t look pretty, but I want to make this a convenient process for you so that you don’t have to think “I’ll look it up later” and find that later never comes.  When you find a cause that you feel enthusiastic about, run with it.  I’m not getting any kickbacks or commission off of any links to charity, anything you do with them goes to them exclusively.

  • Adopt a block at your local cemetery. You’ll be responsible for general upkeep like going through picking up trash, cleaning debris (like cut grass or fallen leaves) off of headstones, and whatever other needs your cemetery’s organizer may express.  Google your local cemetery and they should have information about volunteer opportunities.
  • Become a Big Brother or Big Sister. There are lots of kids out there in bad home situations who need a mentor, role model, friend, and someone they can trust and confide in about their goals and worries and questions about life. You can be that person that encourages them to be better than their environment.
  • Check websites for your favorite charities. Many of them have lists of things they need. You may already have things around the house that you can donate or you may be able to pick them up cheap on clearance or with a coupon.  Food Banks and Pantries will have lists for their most needed items, animal shelters will have lists of their biggest needs.  Really any charitable cause you can think of will have a site telling you the best ways you can contribute to them. If you can’t find it, give them a call.  Often, they even have a Facebook page promoting their cause and their current needs.
  • Clean out a Closet. Whatever clothes and accessories or other linens you have that you can’t or don’t wear or use, donate either to a shelter or to Goodwill. If people go to Goodwill and tell them they need clothes to get a job they get hooked up with professionally appropriate clothes for free. At least they do here, but I assume it’s a company-wide policy. Any clothes that don’t sell in their stores get auctioned off by the pound, and anything left after auction gets sent to textile recyclers. If you have clothes that are so worn out and faded or stained you don’t think a charity will want them, put them (washed and dried and nicely bagged) in one of those clothes donation bins you see around town or find another clothing recycler (Goodwill won’t take them anymore according to our research.) A lot of that clothing that we consider too worn out or faded or stained to be usable is actually sent to other countries that have a large demand for second hand clothing, if it’s beyond use for them it may be recycled into wiping and polishing cloths or recycled into fiber for upholstery, insulation, or furniture stuffing. Never never never throw away clothes, and don’t let it sit in your closet knowing you will never use it again because you just don’t know what to do with it. Donate it. It WILL be used.
  • Crochet Afghans for Afghans.  The everyday citizens of Afghanistan have been victims of the conflict in their country.  They suffer from war, oppression, hunger, poverty, and sickness.  These men, women, and children aren’t our enemies.  They’re just regular people with the misfortune of being born into an unstable environment.  Afghans for Afghans provides patterns and a mailing address to provide blankets and warm clothing, including sweaters, vests, hats, mittens, and socks, to the people that need them because they’ve suffered the impact of turmoil they didn’t choose to be born into.
  • Crochet or Knit a Chemocap.  Chemocaps are made and given to chemotherapy patients to provide warmth, comfort, and a reminder that people care and they aren’t fighting alone.  Their websites provide patterns and donation instructions.
  • Crochet or Knit for Stitches From the Heart.  Parents don’t generally know their premies are coming prematurely or if so how prematurely and usually don’t have clothing to fit them when they are ready to leave the hospital, so this charity provides premature babies with blankets, booties, clothing, and hats.  Patterns for knitting and crocheting can be found on their website, as well as appropriate sizing.
  • Cut your hair and donate it to Locks of Love or Wigs for Kids.  If a New Year means a New You and includes a New ‘Do, make sure that hair doesn’t go to waste. There is a minimum length requirement of 10 inches, so if you’re wanting a cut but need a couple more inches put it off a couple months so you can do something good with it.  Once you’re ready to take off 10 or more inches get your hair cut while in a ponytail or braid and that hair will be used to make wigs or hairpieces for children who’ve lost hair for any medical treatment.  Many salons will also offer discounts if you’re donating your hair, so either check out the list of those salons on Wigs for Kids and find one that participates, or ask your salon of choice if they do.  Maybe they haven’t but will once it’s suggested to them.
  • Donate Blood or Plasma. It’s always needed, not just during blood drives, and there’s always somewhere nearby that you can donate it. Plasma can be donated even more often than blood. Especially consider this if you’re blood type O, that makes you a universal donor that can contribute to anyone, but every blood type is needed!
  • Donate Fur through Coats for Cubs.  Fur has gone out of style. People have come around to the idea that wearing fur coats is not particularly ethical and faux fur has become the standard. So, what do you do with those old fur coats inherited from your mother or grandmother or leftover from your youth?  Donate them to a wildlife rehabilitation center where they will be used to give abandoned animals a warm safe place to cuddle up for a nap.  It helps young animals by providing the comfort they are missing from their mother.   You can donate directly through the project or you can contact a local wildlife center directly.  Give them a call and see if they accept fur donations. Not everyone does.
  • Donate Cellphones to Cell Phones for Soldiers.  They’ll take cell phones, smartphones, and tablets.  They request “newer and gently-used”, but if you’re a tech-enthusiast who always has the latest model and takes good care of your phone, rather than sell it or shove it in a drawer when you get your new one, donate it to our troops around the world.  All donated devices valued at even $5 provide soldiers with 2.5 hours of free talk time.  As a military kid, I can say that talking to my dad when he was away from home was an exciting treat. And he wasn’t at war.  When we have troops around the world serving in this perpetual war on terror the ability to talk with their loved ones is invaluable.
  • Donate to a GoFundMe campaign. These are fundraising campaigns started by regular people for causes near and dear to them.  You can search keywords for titles or cities, or you can browse categories for causes listed by animals, businesses, charities, communities, competitions, creative, education, emergency, events, faith, family, medical, memorial, newlyweds, sports, Tennessee fire relief, travel, volunteer, wishes, and “other.”  It’s a great service, but be careful about who you choose to donate to.  People who genuinely NEED money with a sad story are going to be very matter of fact because it is HARD to ask for money when you genuinely need it.  There ARE scammers out there, so just make sure you keep an eye out for sincerity and verifiability if possible. Do NOT waste your money donating to things like the guy who started a campaign to send him money to go protect Betty White from the curse of 2016.  That’s throwing your money away on a joke.  Find something that actually speaks to you, whether a sad story or a happy one or a nostalgic one, make it mean something.
  • Donate to a Kickstarter campaign.  Kickstarter is similar to GoFundMe except that it is specifically for funding creative projects.  Here you can browse by categories including Art, Comics, Crafts, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film & Video, Food, Games, Journalism, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater.  The world needs creativity, it needs art, and it needs entertainment.  Some of these people have incredible talent but need a hand up to make it in the world and you never know whose life you might change.  Choose to help those people that NEED help starting out, not the people already in Hollywood that have their own money and can get loans and backers and investors if they have something truly worth making.
  • Donate shoes.  Gently worn shoes can be donated to Soles4Souls. To date they have distributed 26 million pairs of shoes to people that need them. They are a global charity that remind us that “1.2 billion people live on less than $1.90 per day. 400 million are children. Many don’t have access to one of life’s most basic necessities: a good pair of shoes.”  Another option is One World Running which sends new and “near-new” athletic shoes and other equipment to third world countries with a special focus on health (they also send medications and school supplies and things.)  They will even take soccer cleats and baseball equipment.  If your shoes are past that gently worn stage, clothes aren’t the only things that can still be used even when we consider them too worn out or stained or smelly to donate to Goodwill.  Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program breaks them down and uses the materials in making public playgrounds and tennis courts.  They can’t accept shoes with metal parts, dress shoes, or sandals, but they can absolutely make good use out of those sweaty tennis shoes that take the hardest beating of all things we put on our bodies.
  • Donate Your Old Eyeglasses.  They’re reusable.  Your Optometrist’s office may have a collection program, The Lions Club also has a program to redistribute eyeglasses to low income communities where they are needed the most.
  • Donate your Household items that you no longer use or want to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Pickup Please, churches, schools, or local organization like ARC.
    Goodwill uses 85% of the revenue they generate from donations to help people in your community find jobs and even provide them with training.
    The Salvation Army is a Christian charity that provides food distribution, disaster relief, rehabilitation centers, anti-human trafficking efforts, and a wealth of children’s programs.  Their “About” page doesn’t say how much of their revenue is used towards charitable causes, but it does say that “Eighty-two cents of every dollar we spend supports our various missions across the country.” They have a reputation of being Anti-LGBTQA+ which they address here. I’ll leave it to donors how they feel about all of that, I mention it to address it before anyone suggests I’m supporting discriminatory entities. They are one option among many.
    Pickup Please allows you to schedule free pickup of your clothing or household goods that you leave on your porch and do not have to be home for, donations to them generate the majority of the funding to support programs of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
    ARC is a Colorado based non-profit thrift store that benefits people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
  • Donate Stuffed Animals. Parents are always saying that their kids get too many stuffed animals and only sleep or play with one or two favorites. New or gently used stuffed animals can be donated to causes that will give them to children who have experienced a trauma or emergency situation such as fires, illnesses, accidents, neglect, abuse, homelessness, and weather emergencies and can use the comfort of a cuddly new friend.  Donated stuffed animals are given to fire and police departments, children’s organizations, churches, and homeless shelters among many other organizations. Donated stuffed animals may even be given to the military who will distribute them in countries like Iraq to the children from the troops so our country is making more friends than enemies  In addition to accepting donated stuffed animals currently Stuffed Animals for Emergencies is seeking volunteers  in areas where they do not currently have chapter members to respond to requests from organizations and if you’re willing to clean any gently used donations (their website gives cleaning instructions) and mail or deliver those donations to those organizations you’re considered an urgent need for them and they request you email urgentneeds@safe-inc.org
  • Get actively involved in supporting causes you care about on Change.org
  • Go to GreaterGood.com daily. This site has been around since 1999 and has given more than $40-million to charities around the world. The cause donated to on the main page varies daily, and there are also tabs on the top of the page to click for donations to The Hunger SiteThe Breast Cancer SiteThe Animal Rescue Site, The Veterans Site , The Autism Site, The Alzheimer’s Site, The Diabetes Site, The Literacy Site, and The Rain Forest Site.
  • Go to Care2. Where you can participate in their “Daily Action”, petitions, or Click to Donate which works just like GreaterGood where all you have to do is click a button and their advertisers donate money to the cause for you.  They have buttons to click for donations to Children International, The Nature Conservancy, The Wildlife Conservation Society, The Breast Cancer Fund, The International Fund for Animal Welfare, Oceana, Animal Rescue, The Jane Goodall Institute, CarbonFund, Amnesty International, and Defenders of Wildlife
  • Hold a book drive, or even just donate your own used books. There are a lot of places to donate books:
    BetterWorldBooks accepts book donations that will either be sent out in response to book requests they’ve received, or will be sold to donate the proceeds to funding literacy, funding public libraries, and to organizations such as Books for Africa, Feed the Children, Room to Read, The National Center for Families Learning, Worldfund, and many others.  They also have a policy that every time someone purchases a book from BetterWorldBooks.com they will donate a book to someone in need.
    Books for Africa sends thousands of books to Africa via freight and accepts all books 15 years old or less that may be relevant to an African reader, including fiction, nonfiction, textbooks, reference books, and school and office supplies.  They will also accept separately packaged specifically marked Bibles and religious books, but they are only sent when African recipients specifically request them.
    Books for Soldiers lets you create care packages with your used books and send them to deployed troops overseas.  Their website will even show specific book requests from soldiers, and you can add other media like CDs or DVDs to your care package.  They now also support Veterans within the US.
    Books To Prisoners collects books to distribute to inmates with the mission of fostering a love of reading and encouraging the pursuit of knowledge and self-empowerment.  Most prisons do not allow hardbound books so they seek paperbacks, and their most popular requests include “dictionaries, thesauruses, African American history and fiction, Native American studies, legal materials, GED materials, and foreign language learning materials (particularly Spanish).  Other common requests include genre fiction such as westerns and horror, vocational-technical manuals, politics, anthropology, art and drawing books (including blank notebooks), and books on paranormal phenomena.”
    Books Through Bars collects books to distribute to inmates, facilitating the ability of prisoners to achieve higher education as well as adjusting to life outside of prison when their time is served.  Most prisons do not allow hardcover books so they seek paperbacks no more than 5 years old, and generally prefer educational books, textbooks, history books, dictionaries, substance abuse recovery books, and spiritual books, however due to constantly changing needs they request you contact them prior to donating at info@booksthroughbars.org or 215-727-8170
    Also search for local options, here in Colorado we have Reach Out and Read CO. Most libraries have a “Friends of the Library” Society that will use donated books to stock library shelves or resell the books at fundraisers.
  • Knit or Crochet clothing or blankets for your local homeless shelter. Or hand them out to homeless folks on the streets. Shelters don’t have room for everyone and it gets cold.
  • Look for Facebook pages that will donate to a cause for every like that they receive. I personally follow The Arbor Day Foundation and have regularly participated in posts from companies they are working with that will plant X number of trees for every like. I’m sure there are at least a million other pages that do the same thing, look for charities that interest you and follow their pages so you can see those opportunities to donate through a like.
  • Make a blanket for Project Linus.  This charity gives security blankets to children suffering from disease, trauma, and other needs.  Children can get physical and mental comfort from warm, cuddly blankets and patterns are available on their website.  Even if you can’t sew, crochet, or knit, local chapters are usually happy to receive donations of unused blanket-making materials you may have or might pick up on clearance.
  • Make blankets for your local animal shelter. The Snuggles Project is one that will both provide patterns for crocheting, knitting, or sewing a blanket for an animal and also a list of shelters around the world that accept them as donations (and of course you can always check with your local shelter as well). If you’ve ever been to an animal shelter you know that animals waiting to be adopted, or even animals recovering from injury or illness, are often left in small cages with nothing but food and water. Your blankets give them comfort and warmth and a sense of security.
  • Make clothing, toys, or duffel bags for the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation.  These donations go to shelters and clinics, among other groups on the reservation. They are always seeking crocheted, knitted, and sewn items, most especially for the children in foster care there. Their current urgent needs are socks and underwear for Lakota kids.
  • Make a monetary donation to a cause you care about. Check with your employer to see if they match donations. Lots of large corporations will match your donations in part or even in full. You can usually find the information on your employer’s internal company website, but if you don’t see it, ask your HR representative.
  • Make a quilt, lap quilt, or turtle pillow for The Painted Turtle.  The Painted Turtle is a camp and family care center for children with debilitating conditions and life threatening diseases.  They use these quilts and pillows to provide comfort to the kids while they’re away from home, and to keep to remember their time at the camp.  Their website provides details for blanket sizes and a pattern for the turtle pillows.
  • Play the vocabulary game, or other educational games on Free Rice. We all spend a lot of time playing online and killing time anyway, playing these games will teach you something while also donating rice to The United Nations World Food Programme for every correct answer. It costs you nothing and is totally funded by their advertisers.
  • Pledge to walk, run, or bike to raise money for a cause you care about.
  • Read public domain books out loud while recording your voice and donate the recordings to LibriVox. The recordings will be made available to the public as free audio books.
  • Shop in clearance sections or bulk stores for hygiene products that can be donated to a local shelter, nonperishable food items that can be donated to a food pantry, or pet foods and toys that can be donated to an animal shelter.
  • Shop online with Good Shop.  A percentage of your sale will be given to a charity of your choosing. They even have an app!
  • Sign up with Leggings for Life as a volunteer to knit or crochet leggings for animals that need them. They have volunteers make comfortable leggings for animals who through paralysis or deformity may acquire infections or ulcerations from dragging their hind legs or having to walk differently. They provide patterns to volunteers on a case by case basis so that the product matches the animal being helped.  Also, share their Facebook page with anyone you know in the field of animal care so that they can connect and provide more leggings to animals who need them.
  • Start a food drive and deliver the contributions to your local food pantry.
  • Support a Classroom Fundraiser at DonorsChoose.  You can search by topics, teachers, or schools.  If the project you choose fails to meet its goal you are given a credit on the site to apply toward another project of your choosing.
  • Use Amazon Smile. Amazon has a program where you sign up to donate a percentage of all of your eligible purchases to a charity of your choice (which you can change at any time.) It doesn’t cost you anything extra, you just have to remember to go to smile.amazon.com when you do your shopping. Same website, same experience, same products, but automatically donates for you.
  • Use a search engine that will donate to charity for every search you make.  Ecosia is a search engine that contributes to planting trees. GoodSearch facilitates shopping with GoodShop to donate with your purchases as mentioned above.
  • Volunteer in Person at an animal shelter, your church, Habitat for Humanity, a hospice, a hospital, a nursing home, a school, a shelter, a soup kitchen… whatever cause speaks to you.
  • Volunteer Online! Most people don’t think of this as an option but if you have skills in administration, advocacy, community organizing, content creation, copywriting, event organization graphic design, leadership, outreach, project management, research, social media, teaching, technology development, or training, those are all skills that you can donate your time helping non-profits. Check out the Give Work iPhone App to help quality control of work outsourced to refugees.
  • Volunteer your computer’s idle time. You truly don’t have to do anything but let projects use your computer’s processing power when you’re not using it. Atlas@HomeBOINC, Einstein@HomeFolding@home, LHC@home, Poem@Home, QCNSeti@Home, and the World Community Grid are among the projects that will allow you to put your computer’s idle time to use for research in the areas of curing diseases or understanding proteins and weather cycles or trying to find extraterrestrial life.

If you need additional help finding where or how you can volunteer, there are sites and apps that will help you find a good match for your skills and interests. If you don’t already know what you are going to do, check out these sites:
Idealist
Jumo / Global Giving
VolunteerMatch

If you’re feeling a little Scroogey and need some extra incentive remember that anything you donate, whether monetary or tangible items, is all tax deductible. Get a receipt and put it someplace safe so you can include it when you file your taxes for the year.

If you have a favorite cause, charity, or idea on how to donate your time or skills let us know in the comments!

Apart from doing one (or more) of those worthy projects, today’s little list of tasks is:
Give yourself some foot love. We’re rough on our feet. They carry us around, we shove them into shoes that are sometimes quite ridiculous, we stub them on things… show them some appreciation.  Cut your toenails, use a foot file if you’re prone to rough calloused feet like I am, polish your toenails, lotion your feet and put on some cotton socks to keep the moisture in, give yourself a foot massage, or treat yourself to a pedicure. Men too, you can opt out of polish if you don’t want it and still get your feet cared for and get an awesome massage out of the deal. It won’t make you weird. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a nail salon without seeing a man getting a pedicure. Even the big tough manly men in army shirts that are watching football on the TV while their feet get worked on.
Clean a Bedroom. If you’ve got a Guest Bedroom, choose it for today, but if not then obviously go with your regular bedroom. Start from the top and work your way down. Dust any light fixtures, shelves, TVs, dressers, knick-knacks and wall art. Clean your switch plates for the lights and get rid of those dirty finger smudges that accumulate over time. Windex any mirrors or TV screens. Straighten up the contents of dressers and closets. Organize your desk if you’ve got one. Get your books put away on shelves. If you’ve accumulated dishes from eating or drinking in bed, take them out of your bedroom and put them in the dishwasher. If you’ve got clothes on the floor take them to the hamper, or the washing machine. If you’ve got clean clothes sitting in a laundry basket get them put away. Dust your blinds and Windex your windows, and give your windowsills a good scrubbing. Change and wash your bed linens. Sweep and mop if you have hard wood, vacuum if you have carpet. Empty out your waste baskets. Boom, done!
Do some body-weight exercises to engage your core.

Do a 1 minute plank.

All Rights Reserved.
1st Month, 250lbs, poorly executed plank

Do side planks for 1 minute on each side.

Do ten Supermans.

All Rights Reserved.
1st Month, 250lbs, Supermans

Do a T-Stabalization for 1 minute on each side.

All Rights Reserved.
1st Month, 250 lbs, T-Stabalizations.

You just made yourself stronger and healthier in under 10 minutes!

Combat Allergies through a guided meditation or a subliminal message track. As always, the guided meditations are not only affective, they’re calming and soothing, and the subliminal tracks are great to fall asleep to.

Other than that, have a wonderful day and don’t forget to do your nightly journaling!

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.

Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:

MP3: Shake Me I Rattle (Squeeze Me I Cry)

Album: Country Ladies

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10 Replies to “Just a Penny Shy”

  1. Wow! Very comprehensive. Thank you. Over the years I have donated to UNICEF. It always pains me up see those false postings on FB about how little if the donation hoes to the needy. I started giving to them after I watched a 60 Minutes episode that showed this peanut butter paste that was fed to starving children. It provided nourishment and was so easy to store and use. It seemed wrong to have so much and not provide for starving babies. I need to donate today and also explore some if these other options. I have old tennis shoes that are definitely going to Nike!!! Thank you for that tip!

    1. 🙂 I’m so glad that one of the tips got your attention and someone will get an awesome benefit from it! I’ve never paid much attention to Nike because if I looked at any name-brand shoe store tennis shoes it was always “Reebok is made in the US” but looking at Nike’s “Nike Grind” campaign they are doing some amazing things with reusing and recycling and sustainability and I’m really impressed.
      I always feel really heartbroken seeing how many charities give such little money to their charitable cause too 🙁 It’s hard to know who to trust. I felt really betrayed by Wounded Warrior Project when all of their stuff came out. They were one I really thought I liked supporting.

  2. Wow, the amount of research you did for this is amazing. Thank you for compiling all of this in one place !!! I definitely have items I can donate and I have an animal rescue site I absolutely love that I haven’t donated to in a while. Oh, and I found a Journal app that I downloaded on my phone so I can just type (swipe) away and it’s password protected too, woohoo !!

      1. No planks for me, sadly. I did lay on my back with bent knees and stretched to each side for 3 reps. Then did 3 leg lifts on each leg. I am paying for it today, wink wink. In the famous words of a loved one, “It’s all good”.

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