Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Charity On The Cheap

I just finished reading a heartwarming story about an 88 year old widow up in Washington state who, having $9 dollars to her name, found herself unable to afford her husband's burial.  She was planning to sell everything she owned to honor his final wishes and bury him in the family cemetery.  

Happily, viewers of the local TV station who aired her story chipped in and donated over $12,000 dollars to insure her husband could be buried in dignity, and would not strip her of her meager belongings.

To me the most noteworthy in this news article was not the story itself.  Instead it was the many comments made by readers of the article.  So very many lamented that they were not wealthy, and thus could not grant needy wishes such as those featured in this story.  If they only knew:

While $12,000 dollars sounds like a lot of money, those who receive public donations such as these, will tell you that thousands of individual donations are simply a dollar bill placed in an envelope and the cost of a stamp.  

So many folks assume that a dollar is so small as to be meaningless toward a charity donation.  And that's a sad thing indeed.  How many charities go wanting simply because folks are too ashamed to send a dollar.

Let me tell you how I learned just how much a small donation can mean so much.  Several years ago I received mailer from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  This hospital, founded by the beloved comedian Danny Thomas, now spearheaded by his daughter, treat thousands of children with cancer each year.  Their founding principle is that no child with cancer shall ever be turned away for lack of funds of their families.  More importantly, St Jude is a research hospital, working to find cancer cures.  Their research doctors produce hundreds of research papers each year and share them with other agencies working to find cures for cancers.

Thanks to St. Jude thousands of children have been cured, or had their life prolonged by loving and caring treatment at St. Jude.  And unlike many other charities, well over 90 percent of your donation goes directly to patient care and is not eaten up with top heavy and costly administration.

So after learning of St. Jude I think my first donation was a single dollar bill.  And after sending in that single dollar I began getting pictures of the kids for whom my dollar benefited.  They sent me address labels for my holiday cards.  They sent me calendars designed by children suffering from cancer.

Of course I know those little address labels and calendars are meant to touch my heart so that I might donate again.  And it works!  Every month I receive a little donation slip and a pre-paid postage envelope and I write a check for $7 dollars or $11 dollars, depending on what I can afford for that month.  Sadly, sometimes there is nothing to send.  

But every time I'm able to send a few bucks to St. Jude I feel good.  Damned good.  So, the next time you want to give, but feel a single dollar does no good, please think again.  Why not try this:  take a dollar out of your wallet right now.  Stick it in an envelope and send it to:

         St Jude Children's Research Hospital
         262 Danny Thomas Way
         Memphis, Tennessee

You're going to feel so damn good for so little.  Thank me later.


  1. Your donation amounts sound a bit like a crap shoot.
    I'll be happy to send something to St. Jude's. I remember watching Danny Thomas with those heartfelt pleas on television. Nobody, with the exception of Jerry Lewis does this much anymore, at least with any integrity. Always a scandal attached as to where the money ends up. St. Jude's has always been a wonderful charity. My mother is acquainted with a couple women who have worked there, their stories leave me a little weepy, always with a happy ending.
    Thank You

  2. Yeah, Ken...that $7 or $11 sounds funny but it's the check box on the donation slip, thus 7/11.

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