view counter

Our Cornucopias Overfloweth

So now’s the time to turn thanks into giving

On last week’s visit to St. Louis, six-year-old granddaughter Ada showed us how high she can count: all the way to 100.
    On Thanksgiving Day’s annual inventory, she needs all those numbers and more to count her blessings.
    Like Ada, most of the family and friends with whom I share three Thanksgiving feasts need good math skills, especially addition and multiplication, to count their blessings. Like our Thanksgiving tables, we are weighted with abundance.
    Most of us have a few pounds too many, so many clothes and shoes we never know what to wear and — hard times or not — so much money that we fritter it away as if we hoped to buy our way into heaven, like the poor fooled souls in Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Tale.
    True, most of us have learned lessons about subtraction and division that Ada has yet to learn. My friends older than she have losses to enumerate, as all of us do. But on our scales, blessings far outweigh losses.
    When you’ve got so much that your cornucopia overflows, it’s time to shift a bit of your good fortune into the balance of someone else’s scale.
    Thus the day of giving thanks flows into the season of giving.
    It’s Bay Weekly’s Thanksgiving custom to feature people — and organizations — leading the way from thanks to giving.
    This year, we’ve told the stories of five organizations at work to equalize the distribution of blessings in Chesapeake Country.
    Giving Back, Linda’s Legacy fills backpacks with warm clothing for homeless people in the Annapolis-Baltimore-D.C. area.
    The Military Pets Foster Project finds tempoary homes for the pets of serving soldiers.
    United Way of Calvert County’s Angel Tree Book Drive makes holiday gifts of books to young readers.
    Gifts That Give Hope makes it easy and fun to add one or more of 11 very good Anne Arundel organizations to your gift list.
    Pack A Purse gives transient teenage girls a bag of their own filled with toiletries.
    Five is a small and easy number. Ada would have to use all her skills to count the many more organizations just as worthy at work in our community.
    Angel Trees and Giving Trees, for example, grow throughout Chesapeake Country. Each tree is hung with the wishes and needs of people whose balance of blessings, at least of the material sort, is scanter than yours. Shopping for those children, families and sometimes seniors is a fine way to share your blessings. The window of opportunity is typically open from Nov. 29 thru Dec. 12.
    Sharing your blessings through local organizations — like these and the Annapolis Community Foundation, the subject of Ellen Moyer’s Our Capital City column this week — enriches your community and guarantees that you get the biggest bang for your giving bucks.
    With so many requests for aid coming at you in every way, shape and form in the season of giving, you won’t want to respond to every appeal. Skip most phone solicitations. Think before you give. Take time to understand the cause and the mission of the charities you choose, and learn to what extent your chosen way of giving supports programs and services rather than expenses, advises the Better Business Bureau.
    The Better Business Bureau uses the 65 percent standard, meaning at least 65 percent of the funds a charity receives from your donations should go into the programs and services of the non-profit — not overhead.
    You’ll be doing the most good, according to Bureau reckoning, by —
• Giving items specified by the charity such as coats, toys and canned goods.
• Giving your time: Volunteering gives direct help and raises awareness.
• Giving when you shop. Embedded giving at participating stores and restaurants means the business donates an amount of the purchase price to a specified cause.
• Giving online. Surprisingly, that’s ranked as the most efficient way to directly support a charity.
    Each of the five organizations we’ve featured this year makes 100 percent direct contribution of your gift, your time or your money. We’ve done the research, and we vouch for them as good ways to carry your thanks into giving.

With so much need and so many good causes, we’ve no doubt missed a charity dear to your heart.
    Now’s the time, when the cause is fresh in both our minds, to help me plan next year’s story. Write me, introducing your favorite giving group, and send photos of their deeds. Simple is fine: Model yours after the note sent by Mt. Zion United Methodist Church assistant pastor Jack Thomas, who writes of his church youth group:
    Lifeline has raised over $3,500 to buy coats and other winter clothing for the homeless of South County. Our church is matching those funds, bringing a total over $7,000 of clothing that our youth will be purchasing and delivering in the next few weeks.
    Write me at [email protected]. I’m waiting to hear from you.