Giving Tuesday

The day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday, the day when retailers hope to move from being in the red to being in the black.  It has also become a day when shoppers go forth, hoping to find great deals, either for their Christmas and Hanukkah shopping, or perhaps for themselves.  There is also Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to frequent small, locally owned businesses, rather than the big box stores that are so popular on Black Friday.  Yesterday was Cyber Monday, when shoppers go online and shop while they’re supposed to be working.  A person can supposedly get really good deals on this particular Monday, though I find offers of such deals to be somewhat suspect.  (I saw a deal on Amazon for a gift I am intending to purchase, and it was 1/3 of the regular price.  But it was not available, because all at that price had been snapped up.  I have no stomach for such games.)

Now there is Giving Tuesday, a day when we are encouraged to stop worrying about buying gifts and so on for a moment or two, and give some thought to non-profits.  I do not, could not, and will not, offer a gift guide of shopping suggestions.  However, I do have some giving ideas, if you’re looking for help in that arena.  You can give goods, time, or money, whatever fits your situation the best.


  • Food Banks – You can donate in several ways.  You can write them a check (or donate online).  You can put food in the barrel at the grocery store (peanut butter and canned tuna are always popular options).  You can volunteer to go to the food bank and help sort food, which will be delivered to local soup kitchens, or picked up by those in need.
  • Soup Kitchens – A lot of people come out and serve food on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and maybe Easter.  Why not call them up and see if they’d like your help another time of year?  I’m guessing they would.
  • Schools – Public schools depend more and more upon foundations to support not only extracurricular activities, but also art, physical education, and science.  Increasingly, this support funds teacher incomes, not just them staying late to tutor our children.  I’m not sure how much this is a factor outside of California, but here, because of stupid Prop 13, it’s HUGE.
  • Child Abuse Prevention Council – Again, both volunteering and monetary donations are welcome.  A donation in your child’s teachers name might mean more to them than a mug or a box of candy.
  • Meals on Wheels – They can always use more volunteer drivers.  They also need people to go and visit the elders once in awhile, and of course, they can always use money to help them provide this needed service.
  • Toys for Tots – If you really really like shopping, and you want to do some good at the same time, you can contribute to a local toy drive.  Toys for Tots is the most famous one that I know.  One year, my company supported ‘Adopt an Angel’, and my kid wished for a warm coat.  He was 9.  Gah, a 9 year old that wants a coat instead of a toy or a book or a game…it broke my heart.  And duh, I bought the warmest coat I could find.
  • Animal Shelter – All animal shelters can use cash donations.  Some animal shelters use volunteers to help socialize animals, or to clean out cages, and so on.  Some accept donations of food and animal toys.
  • 18,000 other local organizations – There are undoubtedly plenty of other local non-profits that would be grateful for your help.  Perhaps a group of kids that create cards that they sell, and use the money to buy sleeping bags and clothing for local homeless folks; a group that collects and sends care packages to soldiers deployed overseas;  perhaps a dog rescue that brings in dogs for your particular favorite breed, cares for them (sometimes very expensive), and finds them home.


  • American Red Cross – The Red Cross can use your help in so many ways. They are the first responders when natural disasters like the ’89 earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, and Superstorm Sandy hit. They are also there for smaller disasters, like house fires and floods. They collect blood for emergencies, blood which is needed by so many. People with cancer, people in car accidents, people having surgery, and so on.  My grandma received a transfusion during her recent medical stay, and I’m thinking this weekend will find me donating at our local blood center and thinking of her.  Want to help? You can donate money, you can donate blood, and I’ll bet there are plenty of ways for a person to donate time as well. Speaking of Superstorm Sandy, if you’re interested in helping out, the Red Cross is probably not the best place for longer term help. NPR had some other ideas, here. I was especially impressed by the organization of Occupy Sandy volunteers.
  • Planned Parenthood – I don’t know if Planned Parenthood has much use for volunteers, but I do know they can use financial help.  Planned Parenthood is sometimes the only healthcare women receive.  They provide cancer screenings, birth control, and treatment when needed.  They were there for me when I needed birth control, but did not have medical insurance.  They are there for so many.
  • Medical Research and Advocacy – The list is seemingly endless.  Organizations devoted to research to end breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, lymphoma, leukemia, just plain cancer cancer.  Then there’s AIDS, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, Down’s syndrome, on and on and on.  There are groups working to help burn victims, children with cleft lips and cleft palates, spina bifida, any group you can think of, they surely have a worthwhile organization that can help, and that needs your money.
  • NPR/PBSNational Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System, they both produce wonderful programs for children, adults, everyone.  If you believe in the mission to bring this information to the public, if you listen and watch, this might be a good place to plant a few dollars.
  • ACLU and/or Southern Poverty Law Center – These organizations work to defend the civil rights of Americans.  The ACLU focuses more on the right to free speech and due process, and the SPLC focuses on protecting the civil rights of those who have been wronged, and bringing those who commit hate crimes to justice.  They are both very worthwhile organizations.
  • National Center for Family Literacy – Their mission is towards whole family literacy, because when the family and community are literate, the circumstances for the entire community improves, and the children have a better chance of graduating from High School.
  • 18,000 other National Organizations – There are so, so, SO MANY worthwhile organizations out there.  Think about what is important to you…the arts, medicine, animal welfare, hunger, poverty, civil rights, alcohol abuse treatment, etc.  Find what you care about, and then find an organization that helps.  Give them money, or time, whatever you have more of.


  • Heifer Project  – The Heifer Project works to alleviate hunger and poverty, both nationally and internationally, by giving animals to families in need.  A goat that provides milk to a family, perhaps enough that they can sell some to neighbors.  Perhaps they make enough money so that their children can go to school rather than working.  The first offspring of this goat, they must donate to another family in their town or village, who must also pay it forward.
  • Mercy Corps – The Mercy Corps works to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.
  • International Red Cross – Again, a first responder, there in times of crisis, to help people through the most difficult times in their lives.

There are so many more organizations that you can help out.  Give blood.  Put some peanut butter in a bin at the grocery store.  Go serve food at a soup kitchen, or sort at a food bank.  Visit some old people at a nursing home, donate flowers to make things more cheerful there.  Adopt an animal, if you’re ready for an addition of love and laughter to your household.  There are so many things you can do.  Do them.  Today and every day.


4 thoughts on “Giving Tuesday

  1. Thank you for this reminder. I know that so many people get irritated by the bellringers for the Salvation Army, and it can be irksome. JCP (JC Penney Co.) now offers the option to round up your bill, donating the change to the Salvation Army. For example, if your purchases totalled 20.63, you can donate the remaining .37 to the Salvation Army and make your bill an even 21.00.

    I don’t work for JCP, but I was presented this option yesterday at my local store.

    It’s so easy now to do good that there’s even a term for it: “Slacktivism”. We can simply push a button on our smartphones or computers and send money or sign petitions, and we can, as you said, grab an extra jar of peanut butter or can of tuna and toss it in a bin right there as we check out. Or, at my grocery stores, pull a little coupon worth 5, 10, or 25 bucks and give it to the cashier, who then scans it like an item and voila! Donation. If we can, we should.

    • Nance, our local Safeway does that as well. I mean, one of them does. There are several in the area, and one just asks if we want to donate a dollar, but the other one asks if we want to round up. I like whole numbers in my checkbook (what’s a checkbook?), so rounding up makes me happy. They also have the gift amounts, and bags of pre-packed food if you want to buy one and put it in the food bank barrel. Indeed, it is SO easy to give. Maybe not easy to pay for sometimes, but convenient.

  2. Hey! I posted, in a much less interesting way, about the same thing today! I like this idea because it seems to me to put the spotlight on what the holiday season is really about. Giving.

    Great minds, J. Great minds…

  3. Hi Ally, I liked your post, and how you said exactly what you were going to give. Here’s my tally for today: donated a little money to Southern Poverty Law Center, since they called on this day of giving; found that my bank would let me donate my unused reward points in the form of cash to the Red Cross, so I did that; got an email from my local PBS station, telling me that if I donated to them, they’d send me season 3 of Downton Abbey, so OF COURSE I did that; put a dollar in the Salvation Army guys red collection bucket. For the local things, I do those anyway…donate monthly to my daughter’s school, volunteer for Meals on Wheels, donate to the food bank. Maya volunteers with her Girl Scout Troop to donate time and goods…November was a basket brigade, where we sent her with a turkey and some sides, and she and a BUNCH of other volunteers assembled and delivered them to needy families. December they’ll do gift wrapping for a local ‘crisis nursery’, which helps families in crisis by caring for their children for awhile (up to a month or two, if needed) while they get their stuff figured out. Lastly, I’m determined to go to the blood bank on Saturday and donate there. I would have done it today, but it sometimes makes me quite tired, and I don’t really WANT to be quite tired and still have to work. Better on a weekend when I can come home and have a snooze.

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