Friday, January 22, 2010

Bits and Spurts

I've been lying about all week, caught somewhere between being sick and just being tired after a long weekend. I've barely read anybody else's posts this week, and until this moment have had no idea what to say on today's topic. Charity, it's a great thing, right? And I should be able to say lots about it, only I'm the poor sucker who volunteered to be the last blogger of the week, and I'm not sure what I could add to what's already been discussed.

We do give to charity in la casa de Madden. The Hubster is a federal employee, and participates in an annual program that deducts a certain amount of money (pre-tax) from each paycheck to give to the charities he names. We decide together, each year, what those charities will be. In addition, the man is Catholic, and as such tithes to his church. But these are really the Hubster's charitable donations, not mine. Yes, his money is my money since I am the stay-at-home parent and have thus sacrificed a regular paycheck to take care of our family at home. But still, that old feeling of "I have no money of my own" rears its ugly head whenever I talk about charity and finances.

When I had a day job, I used to give regularly to a couple of charities - Amnesty International, ASPCA, Alley Cat Allies and my local PBS stations. These were things I believed were worth donating to, and my beliefs are strong enough that we still donate to these organizations thanks to the Hubster's paycheck donations. Then there was the volunteer work I used to do. Usually it was just small things. I'm not Catholic, so rather than sit through Mass I used to volunteer to work in the church nursery, until I decided my kids were too much of a handful to deal with in addition to someone else's offspring. My only other "big" stint at volunteer activity happened before we had kids, Hubster and I volunteered to train at the local Red Cross as Emergency Services reps. If someone's house burned down in the middle of the night, we were the folks who would help them find a place to stay and help replace some of their goods. We were never actually called upon to do this, thankfully, but we were willing and ready.

These days, my good deeds are pretty sporadic. Once or twice, I have volunteered to serve food at the homeless shelter my husband's church hosts once each year. I have bought clothes and toys for children in need and dropped them off at the local Y or Salvation Army whenever I chanced to see their signs for donations. But it's all few and far between. Again, I have no steady paycheck, so it's hard for me to donate my own money. As for volunteer work... well, with two small children and the demands of my writing and graphics work, it's hard to find time to breathe, let alone volunteer for one more thing to do.

Last weekend, that exhausting weekend I referred to at the beginning of this post, I was at Marscon, a local science fiction convention. I went as a writing guest, and brought with me a stack of books to sell, including Alessia Brio's "Coming Together: With Pride." I made sure to explain to anyone who stopped by my table what Coming Together was all about, and pointed out that there were other authors who were there as well with other volumes of the books and promo materials too. We pimped those books hard, and I think Sapphire Phelan may have sold the copies she had. All for a good cause!

In addition to the books I brought, there was also this collection of Star Trek plates I had. My mother had given them to me ages ago, a set of eight plates with various Star Trek characters painted on them, and matching mugs. I love Star Trek, but for the life of me I never understood why my mother bought me plates! What was I supposed to do with them? Hang them on my walls? Eh, no. So when I arrived at Marscon this year, I brought the plates with me, still in their original boxes with their original certificates from whatever mint they came from. I handed them over to the convention's charity auction for the Humane Society. "I have no need for these," I said. "Please sell them to a good home." I was told Sunday that the plates went for around $50. The convention was grateful, and I was please that I could do something, anything, charitable while reclaiming a bit of space in my china cabinet.

So my charity happens in bits and spurts; a short story given to Alessia here, some plates donated there, a little time helping out when I can. I am not Bill Gates, able to donate millions of dollars to helping the world. I give what I can, when I can. And maybe that's what counts. I hope so.

If anyone here would like to make a donation to a worthy cause, please consider taking a look at The Boom Effect, an auction in action dedicated to Sonic Boom, daughter of Tee Morris, author of "Morevi" and the Billibub Baddings mystery books, and his wife Natalie. Earlier this month, Natalie passed away unexpectedly. A group of friends have gotten together to create a trust fund for Sonic Boom. Many authors and artists have donated their works and other items for sale. Yours truly will be offering a signed copy of Future Perfect plus a crocheted ninja (that's right, I'm going to crochet a ninja; don't ask how, just believe). The auction will be held on line 27 February. That's in just a few weeks. Consider giving what you can to this cause. Even a small donation will make a huge difference in the life of one little girl.

That's it from me this week. Go out and do good, or at least as good as you can.


  1. Helen,

    I always figured Fridays here would be a tough gig. Then again, you've always proved yourself the match of the toughest Friday.

    Sonic Boom sounds like an incredibly worthy cause and it's heartwarming to know there are so many generous and caring people out there on the internet.



  2. Hi, Helen,

    I think that your bits and pieces are tremendously valuable. We just need to keep our eyes open for opportunities-- and our hearts--and give when we can.

    I really do want you to post a picture of the crocheted ninja, though. I can't even begin to imagine!


  3. Hi Helen!

    Tuning in late. Honestly the "Croucheted Ninja" sounds like it would make an excellent book title. Sort of a Portrait of Dorian Gray kind of thing.



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