Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Nothing You And I Won't Do

It's New Year's Day. I've been thinking a lot about how I do stuff, however small, for the common good and urge you to do stuff for the common good. It's possible to assume all kinds of things are wrong or would be productive and make stupid, humiliating mistakes with the best of intentions. Kali knows years ago I threw benefit events where none were wanted or especially needed because I felt the want and need to do something. In my old age and sloth, I slow down and listen to people who actually know what they're doing. Case in point: the blogosphere has put a great deal of effort into successful fundraising for Pretty Bird Woman House. I didn't have a spare nickel to my name, so I sat that one out. I didn't think I could help. A few days ago, Melissa pointed out a detail that had escaped my notice: the house needs stuff. I slapped my forehead. Of course it does.
Material Donations Also Needed

In addition to monetary donations for the house fund, PBWH is in need of the following items for women seeking emergency shelter: towels and washcloths, twin and full size sheets, toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, women's hygiene items, diapers of all sizes, baby wipes, first aid kit items, and analgesics such as ibuprophen and aspirin.

Since winter is approaching, there is a need for new or gently used winter clothing for women and children as well.

UPS, FedEx and DHL will not ship to P. O. boxes. If you use one of those services, use the building address:

Pretty Bird Woman House
302 Sale Barn Rd.
McLaughlin SD 57642

If you are using the USPS, send your package to the address at the top of the page.

It also turns out that the shelter specifically needs NEW sweat suits, underwear and bras for women who have been sexually assaulted, since they often must leave their clothes behind at the hospital as part of the evidence gathering process. Recently a hospital released a woman in only her hospital gown and blanket. Wow, that one has to change doesn't it!

PBWH would also like to offer victims of sexual violence information on coping with sexual assault, but does not have the budget for this. An inexpensive yet good booklet is available for $2.50 ea. at www.tsnelson.com. If you would like to contribute by buying some of these pamplets, that would be greatly appreciated as well (there is a minimum order of 50).

Thank you!

At the beginning of a new year, one thing we all have is extra stuff. I'm not materialistic and I despise shopping, but I opened my lingerie drawer and found five bras with tags still on. I have extra coats I've been lugging around. I have sheets and towels that I don't love above and beyond what I truly need. These things weigh on me. Their presence does not enrich my life. Yesterday, I called my sisters and asked them to go through their closets and their children's closets for things gently or never worn but no longer needed. We each have separate social structures that involve the re-circulation of clothing and household items. In this case, I asked them to give me what they don't need and I'd send it to South Dakota.

Tomorrow, I'll send two big boxes out. I will never miss these things, no matter how I acquired or once loved them. I feel lighter already, especially knowing that what space I clear out the universe will fill with what I actually need. I'm hoping for artichoke dip.

People in need come in all shapes and sizes. I am sometimes overwhelmed by the problems we face, and that we absolutely must face them, but that sense is out of proportion. I can't solve the world's problems. What I can do is be a connection between something stuck and in excess and the place where that stuff is needed. You can do it, too. Take five things out of your closet and send them to Pretty Woman Bird House, if you are a woman. Then ask your friends to do the same. Money is tight everywhere, but all it will cost to help is postage, and probably less than $20.

It would be easy to say, "What about the homeless or abused where I live? Don't they deserve help? Shouldn't I help them first?" It's not a competition. No. No, it's not. Recently, I asked you to consider helping the good people at Vandenberg Air Force Base and I discussed my little project with a few of my co-workers, who at first did not seem receptive. They didn't share their concerns with me, so I have no idea what they were. Just before Christmas, one came to me and told me what happened. I almost burst into tears. See: this woman discussed my little project with her granddaughter who works at Conair. Her department pitches in and their boss matches the group contribution. This year, they chose to use the money to buy stuff for deployed soldiers from Fort Dix in a project parallel to mine. So at first I worried that a particular set of soldiers might lose out because I hadn't articulated their need properly - then I realized a large group of people had just recognized one way they could contribute to the common good that had never occurred to them before.

So. Tell me how you'd like to start this brilliant new year.

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