"If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. The powers-that-be can break up any big thing they want. They can corrupt it or co-opt it from the inside, or they can attack it from the outside. But what are they going to do about 10 million little things? They break up two of them, and three more like them spring up!"
- Pete Seeger, in YES! Magazine

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Donate Underwear to Shelter

The project:
Donate new, unopened packages of women's underwear to local shelter.

A few minutes to buy, a few minutes to drop.

Why bother?
It may sound odd. I mean, of ALL things, right? But in the early 1970s, one of my moms was the victim of a devastating house fire. While away from the home taking care of an emergency involving one of her children, the house burned to the ground, taking everything with it. Out of that devastation came a lifelong friendship - with a woman who donated, yes, underwear. Turns out that when you lose EVERYTHING in a fire or another emergency that doesn't allow packing time, underwear are in pretty high demand.

Worth it?

Photo courtesy Taylor McKnight under Creative Common license.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Donate to Salvation Army

The project:
Donate collected coins to Salvation Army Red Kettle.


Why bother?
While the bell-ringers can grow annoying to some, they bring warm memories to me. One of my grandmothers (through marriage) wrote about HER mother, Amelia Kunkle, who originated that blessed bell ringing practice. From "Amelia's Story," by Martha Devine Powers (copyright 2005):

(In 1900), Cadet Amelia Kunkle found herself standing by a kettle placed near one of the busiest areas in New York City. The wide stairways from the elevated came down to street level at this point. Every hour hundreds of people passed by the place where Amelia patiently waited. Standing by her kettle dressed in her navy blue Salvation Army uniform and bonnet trimmed with a touch of red ribbon, skirts scraping the sidewalk, Amelia, age 16, patiently waited for the passing throng to drop money in her kettle. She tells her own story
"When I first stood by the kettle to' keep the pot a-boiling', it was a cold day…a miserable bleak, damp day. It wasn't raining, but it was cold, very cold. We girl cadets wore our regular shoes and long stockings of black cotton, and over the shoes we wore rubbers over our shoes. Our rubbers looked like slippers, but they were not lined with wool, nor were they high-topped like galoshes or boots that people wear now. However, we found that standing on newspapers helped insulate us from the dampness and penetrating cold. Our usual stint of standing by the kettle was four hours…either all morning or all afternoon…never all day.
"I remember that I was located in New York City in what was known as "The Battery" very near Wall Street. The exact street location escapes me at the moment. I do remember though, that being so near the waterfront accounted for some of the damp, cold weather. Our kettle was strategically located at the entrance, or exit, as the case may be, to the "El" which brought the businessmen to their jobs in the financial district of New York. With every arrival of the "El" droves of commuters would come surging by, some, of course, dropping their contributions in the Salvation Army kettle.
"The size of the average contribution in those days was a nickel, a dime, or sometimes a quarter. There were not always lots of quarters. Occasionally there might be a dollar, but not as a rule. One afternoon, I gathered coins amounting to about eighteen dollars all told in the kettle, which was very good for only four hours. On other days not much happened and I was always disappointed, if that were the case."
On one cold, winter day as the minutes passed slowly, Amelia became restless. People were not paying attention to her, or her kettle, as they hurried by. Only a few isolated coins lay in the bottom of her kettle. Amelia, being Amelia, could not let this situation continue the way it was going. One of her administrators from the Training Home, Major Chadwell, came by to see how she was getting along. Amelia complained to him,
"No one is paying attention to me, Major Chadwell. I'm not getting very much money today. What in the world can I do to make the people notice me?"
"Well," he said, "Why don't you find a stick and bang on the kettle? That will draw attention to you and your kettle, Cadet Kunkle."
"Oh, that's not very nice," Amelia replied with a frown on her young face, "I don't think that would be a good idea at all."
Amelia was not shy about giving her opinion at the Major's suggestion, but the Major replied, "Well, then, Cadet Kunkle, you will certainly
be able to solve that problem all by yourself before long!"
Amelia did not give up. She mulled the problem over in her mind all that day as she stood by her kettle. By the next afternoon, before her kettle duty began, she had her answer.
She went to the nearby Woolworth`s ten-cent store. As she walked up and down the aisles perusing the various items with her idea in mind, she found just what she wanted…a small bell with a short, dark wooden handle, not more than six inches in length over all. As she picked it up, the little bell gave a slight tinkle.
"What a fine tinkling sound it has," she thought. "This is just the thing! Not too loud, but not too soft."
The little bell cost just ten cents.
The next day Amelia went to her kettle duty with a light heart and happily began ringing her new little bell. Yes, of course, people stopped and dropped coins into her kettle instead of passing her by. She answered each contribution with a triumphant and cheery "God Bless You and Merry Christmas."
The idea of ringing the little bell to draw attention to her kettle proved to be an excellent one. Amelia's idea spread like wildfire. Very soon all the cadets had bells to ring as they stood by their kettles collecting money for the Christmas dinner.
Worth it?
Yes. In addition to sharing the story with my girls as they dropped in all the change we'd collected on our trip, perhaps our little contribution, combined with others, helped provide meals or housing for someone in need this cold, wet, winter day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bolinas Run, Again

The project:
Make a quick run to a neighboring town to drop/pick up supplies for an aunt while she was busy at work.

30 minutes

Why bother?
She asked.

Worth it?
Yes. A beautiful, short drive, an easy way to help, plus my cousin came along, so we had some extra time to visit.

Photo courtesy Lisa Chamberlain under Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bring and Cook Dinner for Busy Host

The project:
Plan ahead, bring groceries and make dinner for our host family during our holiday travels.

45 minutes including shopping and cooking.

Why bother?
It's great to have guests, but sometimes its rough on a host family that's super busy. I don't want to create MORE work for my already busy hostess, so the girls and I selected something we like to eat (and enjoy making) and had dinner ready when our host family arrived home.

Worth it?
Absolutely. Less work for them. Same chore I would have done at home. Plus, the kids (and everyone else) were happy with their dinner.

Photo courtesy David "Bucky" Schwarz under Creative Commons License.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trash Pickup - Marshall Gold Discovery State Park

The project:
Pick up trash during a visit to Marshall Gold Discover State Park, the site of the gold discovery that led to the 1849 Gold Rush.


Why bother?
There were quite a few people here for the special holiday happenings. Even if California State Parks was operating at full power, which it isn't, it would have been tough for employees to keep up.

Worth it?
Sure. It's a simple way to help.

Photo courtesy Scott E. under Creative Commons license.