With the holidays comin’ round the mountain awfully fast, it’s hard not to have your mind filled with thoughts of gifts, gifts, and more gifts. I love giving people presents, mainly because I love making people happy. That makes me happy. So I guess I’m selfish that way. However, I lose some of that when the holidays are here and I feel so much pressure to find that perfect present for everyone on my list.
So as I was driving to work this morning, my train of thought wandered to the bags of clothes in my trunk that I needed to drop off at the Salvation Army. And then I remembered that I also needed to put some food in the bin we have here at work for the local food bank. And then I started thinking about how good it always feels to give things like that—basic things that we all take for granted. (Yeah, it was a quiet ride on the way to work this morning, just me and the ‘ol brain.) There’s no pressure, just the joy of knowing that you might make someone’s day a little brighter.
And lo and behold, in my inbox was an e-mail about a website called The Giving Effect. The Giving Effect “uses social media to help donors discover and connect with organizations that need items such as clothes, shoes, and food. It’s the first website to create stories around each in-kind donation that can be easily shared online to inspire others to give. The goal is to create a national movement to get food, gently-used items, and more to people in need.”
Bears on Patrol is a non-profit based in Carrollton, Georgia, and they are one on the more than 1,000 charities registered on The Giving Effect. Bears on Patrol distributes stuffed animals to local police departments for use in domestic incidents involving kids. Anyone with children knows how quickly the pile of stuffed animals can grow, so why not look through it and choose a few gently used teddies and donate them? It could bring great comfort to another child. (Just a note—psychological studies have proven that stuffed animals have a significant calming effect on children in stressful or traumatic circumstances. Bears on Patrol currently supports 11 police departments in seven states, and is quickly growing to include more. (You may read more about them here.)
The Giving Effect connects donors with charities that need pretty much anything you can think of: clothes, food, books, shoes, cleaning supplies, cars, fencing, and even lumber.
And, in our world of social media, your donation may be shared on Facebook or Twitter (of course it can!), so you may encourage everyone you know to spread the holiday spirit.
Other organizations registered on The Giving Effect include The American Cancer Society Discovery Shop in Napa, CA; the Baltimore Theatre Project in Maryland; and Pibbles & More Animal Rescue in Queens, New York.
Donating couldn’t be easier: Simply browse the site by needs, location, and categories to find causes you’d like to connect with. Then, complete a simple form to arrange a pickup, drop off, or shipment. (Tax receipts are issued via email when the items are received.)
And hey, if your Aunt Sally gives you another set of the same pajamas she’s bought you for the past ten years, why not donate them? They may help keep someone warm next Christmas Eve.