Wednesday, November 28, 2007

the white envelope

For years our family has found a worthy cause to donate to over the holidays. It all started with a struggling co-worker who was worried about the holidays because they didn't have money for Christmas. Every day I would hear of their struggles and worries of no Christmas so decided to do something about it. I didn't know much about their situation but envisioned the three young children waking up Christmas morning to no decorations, no tree, no presents, nothing. It was going to be a bleak Christmas. So I made this family my first act of charitable giving.

Tracy and I made a gingerbread house, bought a present for each child, baked cookies, and delivered it all, including a box of satsumas. Imagine my surprise when we walked into their apartment to find this large, beautiful tree with presents piled high underneath! Needless to say, I was not only shocked but embarrassed and a little perturbed as well. But we graciously wished them all a Merry Christmas and went on our merry way. As it turned out, the presents were from grandma and grandpa but it didn't make it less embarrassing for me because I thought we were helping a family truly in need; not a family who just wanted more. But this became an annual tradition of finding one cause to give to over the holidays.

One year we bought several sets of long johns and wool socks and donated them to the local homeless shelter. Another year it was donating nonperishable food to the Food Bank. A lot of our charitable giving was done through work--collecting travel-size shampoos and other toiletries for the Aware Center, adopting a family from the Salvation Army, contributing to the newly formed Boys and Girls Club. It was at work that I received an email that has had a lasting impact on me.

I don't recall who sent it to me or why. The author was unknown although searching on the internet shows that this story first appeared in Woman's Day magazine, 12/14/82. It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so.

I'm such a sucker for sappy stories; stories that tug at the heart; for good deeds done by others. This story had such an emotional impact on me that for the last several years we have included the White Envelope in our holiday giving. My kids will see the envelopes laying among the branches of the Christmas tree, but they don't ask about it, they don't pick it up and see who's name is on the envelope. They know what it is.

This White Envelope holds the name of the charitable organization we have picked for the holiday season. The organization we have donated in each family member's name as part of our gift to them.

In the last few years, the recipient of our donation usually has to do with rescuing dogs and cats. They need advocates to speak on their behalf and my sister is one of them. Rescued Paws is a nonprofit organization that has rescued over 650 dogs and cats in the last year! In one year!! The best part about this organization is that it is a "no kill" organization which means these poor unwanted, abandoned, and abused dogs and cats don't have to worry about tomorrow. Their foster care families keep them until they are adopted out. A handful of women volunteer their time to make this happen; it's all done in their homes; on their own time. And we're not talking about an hour a day. These women dedicate the most part of every single day to their rescue attempts. The dedication and time spent on behalf of these poor little creatures is incredible and they truly are the advocates for these abandoned and abused animals.

You can see why we've chosen Rescued Paws as our charity of choice these days. Here's what I do. I read through the stories that have been written about each dog and cat and pick out a few that tug at my heart the most. I post their picture and their story on the poster and again remind the kids why we're making this donation. We've never really talked about this envelope; I don't know if it has tugged at their hearts like it does mine; I don't know if it holds any value to them. In my little world, it does; so we continue with the tradition in the hopes that somewhere down the line, they, too, will carry on the tradition with their family.

If you have a hard-to-buy for person on your Christmas list, why not consider making a donation in their name to Rescued Paws? It's a good thing.


Mary Isabella said...

Such a meaningful post for this time of the year. I too help someone each Christmas. Mary

Georgia said...

Omigosh, Nancy, THANK YOU! And the dogs and cats in our rescue thank you. Your gift will provide spay/neuter surgeries and prepare them for adoption. Your generosity is awesome.


tracy said...

I think Bucky & I both equally enjoy & appreciate the white envelope. It's hard to ignore the lessons you have taught us. Every year, no matter how poor I think we are, I pick an "angel" off the tree at my credit union & donate a gift to a needy child.

Connie said...

A lovely idea!