Archive for the ‘donating’ Tag

Hair Donation, Apparently It’s Presumed   Leave a comment

“You got your hair cut!/Did you cut your hair? It looks great! Did you donate it?” That has been the almost universal greeting that I have received in the last two weeks since cutting my hair. My mother-in-law commented this weekend after hearing a few people great me like this (and having our priest call me out during his homily as an example of sacrificing for others) that from the reactions you’d think that the whole purpose of growing my hair and then cutting it short was to donate it. I know other people actually do that, although in this case it was just a side-benefit of my “hair plan” to grow it out as long as possible and then cut it super short.

It is absolutely heartening to hear that so many people know about hair donation, and I think it would suck to be the person who cut off several inches of hair but DIDN’T donate it and would have to repeatedly say so. I have to say that hair donation may be the most successful social marketing campaign ever, all the more impressive as the popularity began long before Facebook etc. made social marketing part of our conscious lives. It seems that everyone knows that when you cut long hair, you can donate it. I’m most familiar with Locks of Love, and that’s where I donated mine (and my husband’s hair, which had been sitting in the to-do pile since he cut it two days after our wedding). But I just did a quick web search and at least two other organizations came up in the results, both also creating wigs for kids/women who have lost hair due to medical problems.

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Posted March 5, 2012 by mayakey in personal care

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Sofa Saga   2 comments

Way back in June I posted about buying a new sofa, and while that process was easy (though expensive), it has been much more difficult to deal with the existing sofa. I admit to being lazy and not starting to find a new home for the old sofa during the summer between when we ordered the new sofa, and when we received it. The new sofa actually showed up a couple weeks early, too, so I was caught off guard. But over the last few months I’ve been having no luck getting rid of the sofa.

I tried calling every charity with a thrift store in the Sacramento area, but no luck. The problem is the fact that the existing sofa has tears in the fabric of the seat, and needs to be reupholstered. The foam and liner in the seat also need to be replaced due to 17 years of active usage, so a slipcover doesn’t take care of the problem. But the sofa is still sound. A peek underneath does look like hardwood, so it does still have life left in it. The springs are “no sag” springs, which apparently don’t live up to their name but are really easy to support if that is the case. Unfortunately for the sofa, the local charities only take gently used furniture since they have no way to make the repairs.

We’ve tried listing the sofa twice on Freecycle and once on Craigslist, with no bites. Not even a nibble. I’m a little frustrated with Freecycle because I think it takes the concept of local a little too far. Our local Freecycle is Rancho Cordova. So if I post something, it only goes to people in Rancho Cordova, not other people in the Sacramento metro area. By my count there are three Freecycle groups for “Sacramento”, as well as Orangevale, Rancho Cordova, Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks, Folsom, Carmichael, Elk Grove, and Roseville (all of which are cities/communities in the Sacramento metro area). I’m not keen on joining all of them.

I’ve left a message with a man who teaches upholstery at a local adult education school, and this week I’ll try calling homeless shelters. Why all this work? Two things. Emotionally, I confess to having an attachment to the sofa since my parents bought it when I was a teenager and passed it down to me over a decade ago. Second, I really really hate the idea of throwing something sound into the landfill. The cost estimate that I’ve gotten from upholsterers is $300-$500, but I can’t afford to spend that kind of money for something I’m giving away. I was hoping that someone who needs a couch would be willing to take one that needs a few hundred dollars of work rather than spending the same or more on a new piece. Guess not.

We can’t keep this extra sofa around for much longer as it is really in the way. I am seriously conflicted, though, because I just can’t stand throwing away something that still has use left in it. I wonder if I should start listing it on Craiglist and Freecycle as a set with the loveseat, which is in fine condition. I’m not ready to get rid of the loveseat, which was going to go in the nursery, but giving away both together might be a better option than throwing away the sofa.

What is the take home lesson here? If you’ve kept a sofa long enough for the seat to get  worn out reupholster it instead of replacing it.

Posted November 27, 2011 by mayakey in conscious living, home, unshopping

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Leveraging Charitable Donations   Leave a comment

Every year in November, my co-workers and I get lots of reminders that we have until the end of the month to submit our charitable contribution matching forms for the year. I don’t know how common it is for companies to match their employees donations to charitable organizations, but it comes to mind now as a great offer to take advantage of if you are one of the lucky. Sometimes I feel silly sending in my piddly little check to be matched. It almost feels like there’s no point in matching such a small amount (relatively speaking). But then I remind myself that if I’m donating $40 to the scholarship fund, the fund is getting $80. It may still be a small amount, but it is less small.

The employer matching program is just one way that I try to leverage my charitable contributions. Another is a credit card that makes a donation to charitable organization(s) for every purchase that you make, or one issued by a community lending bank. A frequent topic (or side-topic) in personal finance blogs is shopping for rewards cards in such a way as to maximize your benefits. I, on the other hand, deliberately chose a credit card that gives charitable donations to a whole list of companies. (Although at some point in the last couple of years it also seems to have gained some kind of rewards points.) To me that is the reward: lots of charitable donations to a wide variety of organizations. Granted, some of them are organizations that I wouldn’t personally donate to, but when I vote each year on the amount that goes to each charity I just don’t vote for them. There’s at least one phone company (CREDO) that does the same for cell phones and long distance. And then there’s the list of over a thousand companies that participate in “1% for the planet” or some other kind of give-back. That’s a lot of ways to facilitate financial support for charitable organizations.

I also like the back-door method, which is to deliberately purchase products from companies that “do good”. That’s a major point for fair trade certification. That’s also one of the benefits to buying something made by someone locally rather than from a factory in a cheap-labor country. I consider that spending a little bit more on a product so that the producers make enough money to not need charity or other outside support, is a good thing.

Posted November 8, 2011 by mayakey in fair trade, money

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My Prom Dress Is Off On A New Adventure   2 comments

I have finally managed to donate the dress from my senior prom. This has been a long saga. A couple of years ago I realized that I no longer fit into my prom dress, and that I didn’t need it any more as the stock formal dress in my closet because now I have my wedding dress. I had somehow heard about an organization called Cinderella’s Closet here in Sacramento that provided prom dresses to teens who could not afford them otherwise, so I looked into it. Their guidelines did specify dresses only a year or two old, but I figured I would try to donate it anyway. My mom and I had purposefully selected a classic (read: timeless) style dress that I could (and did) wear as a formal dress for other events into adulthood. (And as I mentioned above, I continued that mentality by buying a wedding dress that I can and have worn to other formal events; what’s the point of a one-time-only dress?) So I took the dress to the drop off location and was told that they were no longer accepting dresses. Shortly thereafter the organization apparently folded, and now the parent organization is also no longer around.

Left with a dress that I was all geared up to donate so that it could get a second life, I hung it on the shades in the computer room so that I “wouldn’t forget it”. But with no other place to specifically donate formal dresses so that girls with no money could still go to The Dance, I didn’t really know what to do with it. I didn’t want to just drop it off at Goodwill. But my aversion to shopping apparently extends to an aversion to finding a consignment store that would sell the dress. Plus, I would rather give the dress to a girl who needs it than make a few dollars selling it, but that’s just me. I might have felt differently if the dress was only a couple years old, and not a decade and a half. This purge time, I have finally found a new place for the dress. It has also been joined by a maid-of-honor dress that no longer fits.

Snowline Hospice Thrift Store in Folsom has a program called A Prom Dress To Remember that provides dresses to girls who would otherwise not be able to afford a dress. When I called to verify, I was told that they would happily accept both the (old) prom dress and the maid-of-honor dress. So now both dresses are at the thrift store eagerly waiting for spring to arrive when they will adorn an excited young girl for a night of fun and memories. It is a great feeling to give new life to things that held good memories for me in the past, and to help someone else enjoy a special event as well.

Posted December 14, 2010 by mayakey in unshopping

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Put Your Money Where Your Values Are   1 comment

This time of year the air is filled with… “donate now and save on your taxes.” The emphasis on donating near the end of the year has always amused me. The holidays are already busy, so why add the stress of last-minute charitable donations? For me personally, a system of donating throughout the year works quite well. With a few tweaks here and there I’ve been using the same system for the last decade.

After I graduated from college I quickly learned that it is really really easy to get inundated with requests for money from both good and questionable organizations, and that a strategy was necessary to balance limited money/requests for money. I decided to go with a charity-of-the-month type system. It allows me to donate small amounts of money to a variety of organizations; and it gives me time to research those organizations and an excuse to say “no” to the more questionable organizations.

How to select those 12-or-so organizations? That has been mostly half-hazard, and I’m not exactly satisfied with the current list. Every year I review the list, and it has evolved over time, but it really comes down to the fact that I’m not putting my money where my values are. At least not all of them.

In the category of education (and also the category of I-use-them-a-lot) is the local NPR station and Wikipedia. These are both invaluable to me on a daily basis, so I donate money to them. We don’t watch much PBS right now, but that may change in the future with kids.

We also give money to organizations that work to alleviate domestic and global poverty through active work, activism, grants and microfinance; that support victims of abuse; that provide college scholarships, and that support soldiers stationed abroad. Oh, and one environmental organization: California Native Plant Society, of which I am a member. Why haven’t I donated to Rocky Mountain Institute, or NRDC, or Environmental Working Group? I don’t know, since these are organizations that I support in theory. I do volunteer time with Weed Warriors/American River Parkway Foundation, but I haven’t donated any money.

And then there’s my church, which feels like a wallet vacuum cleaner, even though I know first hand that the money is desperately needed. It is definitely time for me to re-evaluate my list and make some changes.

Posted December 11, 2010 by mayakey in money

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Dilemma at the Dentist’s Office   2 comments

I had a dentist appointment this week, which is always accompanied by a bit of a dilemma. The problem is not the cleaning (I love the cleaning), or the x-rays (I tolerate the x-rays), but the give-aways. You know, the toothbrush, mini-toothpaste, and mini-floss that they hand you on your way out. I don’t want the toothbrush – I use a Preserve toothbrush that is made from recyclable plastic and that I can send back to the company for further recycling/disposal. (Note-it’s the handle that is recycled, not the bristles). I don’t want the toothpaste – I use Tom’s of Maine toothpaste that contains no sweeteners or petroleum-derived ingredients. I don’t want the thick plastic container with 3 yards of floss when I have 100 yards of vegan-waxed floss in a cardboard dispenser.

So what to do? Do I say “no thank you”? Tried that, it just felt too weird, and I would have to say it after every single appointment. Do I just walk away without picking them up? That’s my favorite solution, and I have done it more than once. But most of the time just before I step away they remind me to take the swag. So my third tactic is to just take the stuff. I keep one set as a spare, a guest set, and I put the others in a baggie. When the baggie fills up, I donate it to the Loaves and Fishes, the local homeless services charity.

I have found that in order to live consciously and with conscience I frequently have to balance alternatives. I don’t like choosing the lesser evil. The challenge is to find a solution that does not compromise my ideals. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it isn’t. Occasionally it is paralyzing, especially when there really isn’t a good solution.

Posted April 16, 2010 by mayakey in musings, personal care

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