Tag Archives: donation

Swap

Over the last year, I learned about this thing called “Swap.” It’s usually a Facebook group in your community that gives you the opportunity to buy, sell and trade stuff that you no longer want or need. I first heard about it when I went to visit a friend in North Carolina. She had just moved into a new home and we were sitting in her sunroom drinking wine. I was admiring the furniture she had in there so I asked where she got it, as I too was working on fixing up our own sunroom. And that’s when she told me about Swap.

So Swap has these great things and these stupid things that people are trying to buy and sell. I participate. I’ve tried to sell tarot cards, a bed frame, a cookbook holder, new baby clothes – a variety of different things. I’ve sold a few things here and there, not for very much, but it’s nice to know something you never used or will never use again can find life in a new home. Yes, I could donate it, which I do with so many things, but some of this stuff is brand new, never been used or taken out of a box so why not try and make a few extra bucks? I’ve bought things too. Only one actually, but it was a great purchase – a ride along car for my daughter for all of $10. Sure it was used, but no one knows the difference, least of all her, and I saved myself about $40, so it was a win-win. I’m sure I’ll do it again.

What irks me about Swap is some of the shit that some people try to sell. I know, I tried to sell tarot cards, but just hear me out. I don’t want to offend anyone. I know that times are tough for people and a good deal is hard to come by. But I’m not down with selling a potty seat or a kid’s toilet. I think it’s gross. I don’t care how much you bleached it or cleaned it; the amount you’re selling for and what I could buy a fresh one right out of the box for is incomparable. Just throw it out or donate it. Do you really need that $3 you’re selling it for? Hey, maybe you do, and if so, I’m sorry, I really am, but wouldn’t you rather have the tax write-off for donating it to Big Brothers Big Sisters or the Veterans Council than $3 lousy bucks? I’m sure you’d get a lot more ROI.

And before you go on about how we sit on toilets all day long in random places where random people have been and these little potties are probably cleaner than those, let me just say, for me, sitting on a random toilet is something I pretty much HAVE to do. And unless I’m in France, I don’t have to pay for it.

All in all, I’m a fan of the Swap. It’s a great way to get something on the cheap or simply get rid things you don’t need.  Some stuff is even free; people just want it out of their house without having to do the work (calling to schedule a pick up, putting everything together in bags or boxes, etc.). And if you can make a few bucks by selling old designer purses, furniture or gifts that you never really liked or used, why not. Just keep those potties to yourselves.

Why I Donated My Bone Marrow to Save a Stranger’s Life

Seven years ago today, I saved a man’s life.

While I don’t know his name, or whether he has had the good fortune to live to see this day, I gave him an extraordinary gift – my bone marrow.

Seven years ago, I matched a complete stranger. I had been on the national bone marrow registry since I was 18 and it took only seven years for me to be a perfect match. Seven has always been my favorite number.

I matched, at the time, a 29-year-old male with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. There was no doubt in my mind that I would donate. I held the keys to save someone, to give them something that no one else could. I was his lifeline.

Not everyone agreed with my decision. My family, while completely supportive, feared for my own well-being. Would something happen to me during the donation, what were the long-term effects? I understood, but all I could think of was if this was my family, if this was me, or someone I loved, and I had to rely on the generosity of strangers, I’d need someone like me to step up to the plate.

I went through some pain, I gave up paid working days, and it was an emotional roller coaster, as things didn’t go quite as smoothly as the registry had promised. Needless to say, I still saved that 29-year-old man, “Peter” as I liked to call him, since I didn’t know his real name.

I was only updated for a year about “Peter,” and up until that point, he lived. He was doing well and surviving. That’s really all anyone could have hoped for. I always wished he would reach out, send a letter, a card of thanks or maybe even call me, but he has yet to do that, and no one from his family has ever done that either. I don’t need that to complete the process, it would just be icing on the cake.

When I see people on TV meet their donors, or read their stories in the paper, I wish that could be me. And then sometimes I think, maybe “Peter” died. Maybe he’s not even alive to thank me. It’s such a black hole not knowing how it all turned out. It certainly wasn’t the ending I was expecting, but who knows, in 10 years, maybe “Peter” will come knocking on my door to say hello.

How the Hungry Fed Me

This week I volunteered at a food pantry. My company organized a full week of donating your time to a charity of your choice or one of many they are affiliated with. I thought it was pretty cool that I was getting paid to do something that helped others on my company’s dime. More companies should allow their employees to do that.

So me and a bunch of other people assisted with food distribution and organization at a New York City church downtown. It was sweltering hot, it smelled funny, and some of it was a bit unorganized. Having worked for a non-profit, I accepted it. I was there to help, not complain.

My experience humbled me, as volunteering always does. I listened as our team leader spoke of only being able to help 35 people during each opening; the heartbreak of turning so many others away; how her clients could only come once a month for food and had to turn elsewhere for meals while they waited for the calendar to turn. Suddenly, my bullshit didn’t seem so big and important.

Hearing all of this impacted me, but nothing prepared me for the people who walked through that tiny door. They had waited for hours on a line to be one of the 35 “lucky ones” and stood again to actually receive their groceries. It was over 90 degrees. These people were standing in the hot, beating sun, patiently waiting for us to help them. They were so gracious and appreciative that we could give them some cereal, juice, a few vegetables. And then they had to schlep their food home, some ill, some frail, all poor and hungry.

As I handed out food, engaged with clients, and bonded with co-workers I barely knew, I felt so thankful. I never truly realized how many people didn’t have food. Sure, I’d participated in food drives and made monetary donations to charities in need, but I had never really gotten my hands dirty in this way.

When I got home, I made the most of what I had in my cupboards and refrigerator.  I begged my husband to work with me not to waste food, and to try and curb our impulse purchases that usually end up in the trash by week’s end. Leftovers will now last a little longer in our home.

If you get the opportunity, give back. It’s better than the delicious meal you’ll have tonight, the tasty martini that will wet your lips this weekend, and the new shoes you just got on sale. It’ll make you feel warm and grateful inside, and you might just change your everyday routine in a way that helps others.

When Did We Stop Giving Back?

Recently, the U.S. Postal Service held a food drive soliciting donations from millions of Americans across the country as part of their Stamp Out Hunger campaign: a cute and catchy tagline with the postage stamp, and a great way to get people to donate to a good cause, Feeding America. Plus, being that they’re the post office, free marketing: they were able to put flyers in millions of mailboxes across the U.S. without paying postage! Brilliant!

I participated in the program. It was easy. Pack up food in a bag and place it at your mailbox. It gave me an opportunity to give back to the community AND clean out my cupboards!

I packed up as many goods as I could that were acceptable to donate. I found stuff I didn’t eat anymore, things I shouldn’t eat anymore, and foods that might make people who don’t have the luxury to eat the way I do a little happier.

I arrived shortly before my postman (an awesome guy I have grown to know after months of long-term unemployment!) with my bag full of goodies and was sorely disappointed. There were five bags of groceries for the hungry at our mailboxes.

I live in a luxury building in Hoboken that houses over 200 units. Of all those apartments and rich people who parade around this place, only five bags were left for the hungry!?! Are you friggin’ kidding me?

Unemployed, and saving my own pennies, I found a way to donate a little bit to those less fortunate than myself.  What I don’t understand is how people who live with the luxuries of personal trainers, nannies, dog walkers and Maseratis (yes, I’m serious!) can’t give a box of pasta or can of soup to the needy. Get it together America!