Category Archives: Charity

A forest of good intentions

10455033_342858385899167_3926404519272517514_nStephanie sent me this, from Facebook, with this explanation:

Hundreds of hats and scarves have been spotted in cities that are experiencing freezing temps this winter. The message attached to one scarf says: “I am not lost! If you are stuck out in the cold, please take this to keep warm!” Who thinks we should start something like this across VA, WV and NC?! You’re loved, Michael and Erica

Funny thing is, I just did this at my local Stop & Shop. I had a really nice coat that I never wore, a warm black coat that has been hanging in my closet for three seasons. I couldn’t find one of those clothes bins where you can donate, and I carried it around in my car for a week or so until I decided to leave it at my local grocery store with a note that it needed a good time. As luck would have it, I left it in the morning, and then had to make a trip back to the store later that day. The coat was gone. Maybe someone just put it in the trash, but I hope someone gave it a good time.

I love this idea.

Have a gently used coat? Some new mittens or hats?

2012-art1-277x300New socks would work, too.

Hands On Hartford, Journey Home, and Center Church of Hartford are looking to open a pop-up store on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the capital city to distribute goods that help keep our neighbors warm.

But they’re going to need your help.

Think  you may be able to contribute? Contact Sarah Simonelli at
sarah.simonelli@journeyhomect.org or at 860-808-0336.

(Oddly, I’ve had this beautiful long black coat I’ve been carting around in my car for a while now, waiting to stumble across a place to donate it. It’s very fancy, but I’ve worn it precisely twice, both times to funerals. Maybe if I give it away, I won’t have to go to any more funerals. I bet I can add some new socks to that and make a donation, myself.)

If you can find a stingier zip code, I salute you.

Mike the Heathen sends this, an addictive interactive map from the Chronicle of Philanthropy that shows how much people give — right down to the zip code.

My own zip code gives a paltry $2.9 percent of its median income. That’s just tacky and I hope your neighborhood does better.

People helping the people

This from Lois (the music, too):

Random Acts of Kindness: Do it. I try to every now and then, but don’t do it nearly enough.

Yesterday, a stranger walked up to me and did something very nice for me out of the blue. I was checking out a large order at Bed, Bath & Beyond in preparation for my daughter’s departure to college, and an elderly gentleman walked over to me and asked if I had a coupon. I didn’t, so he handed me a 20%-off total order coupon. I thanked him and then he came up to me again and asked if I had enough, and handed me a $5 off coupon. He said the cashier should be able to take it, too.

He smiled, I thanked him and again,  he left. She took it and that man saved me $20 all together. I had enough money, but he did more than save me money. I’m in a rough patch at the moment, having a hard time with several big life changes, and it had been a difficult, emotional day.

As we were loading our trunk with the bags, he drove up and asked if she took the second coupon, then smiled, and drove away.

That random act of kindness meant more to me than he knew and it wasn’t about the money he saved me. If you get the chance to do something nice for someone you don’t know, do it. I plan to. You never know what it might mean to that person on that day.

Not letting your right hand — or potential voters — know what you’re giving…

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said that he is reluctant to release more of his tax returns because he doesn’t want others to know how much he gives to his Mormon church.

There’s actually a scriptural reference for that.

Every Tuesday at 11:45 a.m….

…I am due at  Burns School in Hartford, where I volunteer to read with a student for the Everybody Wins CT! Power Lunch program.

My student is a dark-eyed 9-year old with a 1,000-kilowatt smile. He is a fabulous reader, and this is a picture of our first chapter book together. I am not telling you about this because I want you to think I’m a nice person. In fact,  I used to volunteer far more than I do now, and I have missed far too many Tuesdays because of work.

But last week, we were reading this book with another student whose adult reader hadn’t shown up. It’s a magic/pirate book and just for giggles, I started reading some of it in Pirate. Immediately, my reading buddy jumped in with some extremely convincing “Arghs” and “Me mateys.” The kid’s 9. You wonder how kids learn Pirate at such a young age.

Anyway. If you’re looking for a volunteer opportunity in the Hartford area, I highly recommend Power Lunch.

Perhaps the most awesome request for donations, ever

(Photo stolen from HartBeat Ensemble’s website)

Gregory Tate’s turning 60 on January 26th.

Tate is the co-founder of  HartBeat Ensemble, a 10-year old theater ensemble Hartford is lucky to have, but which this year lost a $57,000 state education grant because of budget cutbacks.

So rather than get a bunch of socks (what does one buy an actor for his birthday, anyway?), Gregory’s suggests you donate to HartBeat using the following Greg Tate Math:

  •  60 ÷ 3 = $20: If you’ve known Tate for a 1/3 of his life, it would be 20 years!
  •  60 ÷ 2 = $30: $30 in honor of Tate’s radioactive “half life.”
  • 1 x 60 = $60: For the first time you’ve donated $60 to HartBeat Ensemble in Greg Tate’s name!
  •  2 x 60 = $120: Multiplied by two for the number of times in the last 60 years Greg Tate told you a joke that you actually laughed at.
  • 4 x 60 = $240: “4” he’s a jolly good fellow!
  •  Or any equation of “Greg Tate math” you feel like celebrating!

$57,000 is a lot of money to make up, but surely we can find something for this creative man and his fabulous ensemble.