Posts Tagged With: charity


At Christmastime, I get five times as much mail asking for donations then at any other time of year. I’m sure my name gets sold because I’ve received mail from charities I’ve never heard of. For instance, I got one from Mercy Corps. It has no attributes from Charity Navigator for being a cost-effective charity. And, if you read closely, it relates that any “leftover” funds will be used for other areas of their choice. Hmmm! Not what I call a good charity. They are endorsed by the Better Business Bureau, an organization that has turned out to be useless in my opinion.

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I care deeply about saving the natural world for my grandkids.  With that in mind, I like to choose charities that actually give donors feedback about what they’ve accomplished with our money. The Center For Biological Diversity lists as part of its accomplishments Victory-California Bans Bobcat Trapping.  

Trappers hang out around some of our parks where hunting and trapping are not allowed. The Center For Biological Diversity,  pressured California to make the fines huge for trapping and selling pelts.  It is working.

They are working on saving the  Jaguar, the third largest cat in the world after the Bengal Tiger and The African Lion.  There is one living jaguar in the wild in the United States in the Santa Rita Mountains.  He is now over 20 years old, has no mate nor offspring. But, the center has saved habitat for the big cats and will bring them back to their natural territory from cross border animals from Mexico.

The Center has engaged China to help save elephants by educating the rising middle class about stemming the ivory trade. Elephants are being poached in numbers around the world estimated at 95 per day; that is 95 too many.

The center won habitat protections for the rare Monk Seal. And, they have pressured for protections of the first wolf pack in California that migrated  into the state. They won that protection and have outfitted them with radio collars to see what kind of territory they cover and what they eat.

There is more victories and I hope to do a series on charities for this blog, that you may notice I am back on permanently instead of being transferred to Blogspot where it is difficult to leave me a message. Thank you Jim.

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My friend Pam Munn recently moved to Thousand Palms and came by the park and picked me up so we could go to lunch and hob-nob around town. She warned me that an event called the Tour de Palm Springs was being hosted this weekend.

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On the highway, it was disconcerting to be driving among sweeping globs of hundreds of bicyclers. In town, it seemed more controlled.

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Ten thousand bikers registered for this 16th annual event. They were friendly, of all ages, and seemed to be having a grand time. They ride to support and raise money for 150 charities in the Coachella Valley.

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I noticed a couple of bikers stopped to cool their feet in a fountain outside of this gated golf course. Pam told me the area has 106 golf courses, all watered with used grey water. I wanted to join them because my feet and one ankle were sore after the power walk of the day before. I walked with this group without a problem before the accident. I have to re-coop slowly.

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She took me around the lower side of town which is surrounded by a mountain range. The land beneath the mountains is owned by the water company. It is their water shed and is protected but with access to mountain climbing and picnicking on water company property.

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Pam spotted this pretty bird. I took the picture from the window. The minute we opened the door, it was gone.

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In town, the event was in full swing, with bands and cheer leaders urging the bikers on to the finish line. I have no clue the distance nor route they ride for this event.

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Families cheered on their favorite biker and watched and waited to take pictures as they crossed the finish line.

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Once they crossed the finish line, they dispersed into the Tour de Palm Springs Street Faire as did we. Several blocks of streets downtown were closed to traffic and given over to the event. We enjoyed it very much. Had a great lunch, and still took time to do a bit of shopping. My swim suit turned into trash since the last time I used it. So, I bought another.

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I waited patiently for the line of people having their picture taken with this 27 foot tall statue of Marilyn. Pam says she is prettier at night because she is lit up and her dress is painted with a pearly, luminous paint.

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We stopped for a drink. The band was good but loud. It was impossible to talk without placing lip to ear. We didn’t stay long.

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At this shop, I think it was Canyon Rose Boutique, the clerk asked us, “Where you from?” I told her Murphys. She said, “Oh, just minutes ago someone from Murphys was in here, are you together.” No. I told her the shop reminded me of Reza’s Bags in Murphys. “That’s what she said, too.” What are the odds?

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I love kitschy stuff, so I took pictures of stuff and no one can have too many scarves doncha know. (I was only going to buy a swim suit, but…)

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This woman was photographing her friend trying on and modeling a beautiful hat.

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I believe this was Weitzmens Gallery. It has huge sculptures in front and massive paintings of good quality if you wanted to find it, it is easy to find.

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There was a lot to see in Palm Springs that Pam and I didn’t get to. I have friends coming on Wednesday that will spend a couple of days and we’ll get another look.

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My bike is practically frozen from being on the back of the bronco through so much changeable weather. It is about as mobile as this one. I’m planning to keep it at home from now on. After dinner in the motor home, Pam and I went to the recreation hall to hear some music, but it wasn’t much to our taste and she left at 8 p.m. This week she is going to give me painting lessons using acrylics.

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I find it hard to fathom my depth of Christmas Spirit. There are times I groan at the first sight of a Christmas tree and wish it would come a bit later. This year is an abbreviated Christmas because my oldest daughter and family can’t join us because of her new job, and my youngest daughter and family are headed to Mexico for Christmas to visit her husband’s family.  But, I was delighted to see the first Christmas Tree on the back of this truck. I’m not anywhere near prepared. Maybe I’m anxious to have a dose of cheer in my life.

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Christmas Cheer arrived with Pam Munn, and old friend that once lived in nearby Mountain Ranch. Our husbands were in the Sheriff’s Department together. What I like about Pam is she embraces life fully. She sold her house after her husband died and wanders from adventure to adventure. Living on an Island, house sitting, enjoying birds, pursuing her painting, dating and enjoying new friends and old friends wherever she goes. She loves birds, as I do, and we talked about the whooping crane of my childhood, and her emotional witness to an eagle mourning its missing partner. It’s been about 15 years since I’ve seen Pam.  We solved the mysteries of friendship and remembrance over a three-hour lunch.

I’m at an age where I don’t shop for Christmas, my husband’s idea in the 80’s. We have everything we need and we can’t make anyone’s dreams come true with a $20, or $50, trinket. But, we can make dreams come true with a $20, or $50 donation to charity. Christmas shopping, once the kids outgrew toys, was  a chore for me anyway. In fact, I have a great story of my very last shopping Christmas. I didn’t know it was going to be my last shopping Christmas, but here goes.

It was Christmas eve and I still lacked two adult men’s gifts, hard to shop for, and I’m in Stockton at a Penny’s store, tired and wishing I was somewhere else. The lights, the music, all beautiful. The store packed. I’m standing in this humungous long line, when I hear two women behind me say: “Hey, let’s go up to fabrics, no one will be buying sewing stuff this late in the season. They whirled around and I followed, thinking what a good idea.

We get to fabrics which has been converted to a station for purchases from anywhere in the store and all three of us groaned.  The line was just as bad and now we had to start at the end. But, we laughed, and chatted a little. By the time we got close to the register, one of the women said, well, at least they have two workers, a clerk and a bagger at this station.  When it came my turn,  I commented aloud, well, at least this station has a bagger to help the line go faster and she looked at me and said, “Oh, I don’t work here, I just decided to help and I can’t seem to get away!”

I was stunned. So, I announced loudly to those in line behind me, and got everyone to give a hip-hip-hooray for the Christmas Elf. And we all went home with  smiles on our faces. It was an incident that changed my attitude and filled me with Christmas Spirit.

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Aren’t they adorable? These dogs all togged out for the holidays?  Heavily laden with jewelry and coats, sweaters and fur.

I think it’s ridiculous. Of course, anyone who dares criticize pets and pet practices is in for a firestorm of …hate!  Yes, hate. If you dare offend a pet lover,  you  are in big trouble.

I usually just smile and avoid discussing the subject, but my values do not include treating pets like humans. When I saw this display while shopping, I almost gagged. I can’t imagine the dog or cat being comfortable in the expensive adornments they are forced to wear. Pet owners ferociously defend this type of clothing and jewelry, maintaining THEIR pet loves to get dressed up and loves the attention. I maintain animals are psychologically changed by the treatment they receive. And, I will concede that to dress up an animal for a short time for a parade or the holidays isn’t going to harm them.  It seems overboard and warping of a dog’s basic needs to coddle  pooches and cats, and treat them as though they are human, which by extension includes dressing them in jewelry and fancy clothing.  People expect them to act human-like and ignore their basic instincts.

I’m a practical person. Dogs and cats, horses as well, had an important function as domesticated animals. And they still do, as companions, medical assistants, rescue animals, and just unconditional love. Isn’t that enough?  It is noble. They seem to be natural healers.

What does it say about us as humans that there are food banks begging for food; some  have quit taking applications because they just can’t meet the needs. Many children are living in cars and struggling with parents stressed because the  family is at risk. So, does it seem okay to  spend $15 to $30 or more on doggie jewelry?  I can’t imagine teaching my children, if I had young children, that lavish spending on an animal is a part of family life. Especially in times like these, even if you can afford it.  I think  giving to a charity comes first and deliberately ignoring that type of spending teaches a basic lesson about moral choices.

We taught our children and my kids have taught their children that giving and sharing is part of everyone’s responsibility. If your children love  animals, teach them about Heifer International where you can buy a sustainable animal for families in Slovakia, Malawi or the United States. $500 buys a heifer, $50 buys a share. $120 buys a goat, or $10 buys a share. Wouldn’t be nice to know some little boy or girl can get a constant supply of milk in India? Or $10 buys a share of a pig in Thailand. $20 buys a flock of chickens in Honduras. Another great close to the ground charity is Oxfam, providing loans, work, education, clean water, self-sustaining practices, working with peace keeping organizations in countries at war. It seems to me that not enough Americans  have been hungry enough in  our collective memory to consider that the amount of money we spend on pets per year, over a billion dollars, could feed or educate a small country.

I’ve had pets all of my life. I’m not a pet hater. I love pets. I just think we should put the price of a pet in perspective. The land to grow the corn and wheat they eat. The detriment to wild birds from predatory cats. Consider the horror stories of people who don’t know how to care for pets and abandon them or mistreat them by neglect. The medical resources used to treat them. The continual cost of animal control by every county and city in the U.S. is a direct result of the mishandling of pets by humans.

Go ahead. Get out the whip!

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I chuckle, now, about shopping madness in the 1980’s. Remembering one particular Christmas with kid’s high expectations; siblings too numerous to afford; trying to find the right gift with funds inadequate to make a dream come true. Tradition played its part as well. All of which placed me frazzled and desperate for last minute sales in Stockton at a Penny’s Department Store on Christmas Eve. The lines were daunting and dispirited I stood, contemplating why I was in this horrific line, instead of sitting in front of the stove with a bowl of popcorn and a hot toddy enjoying my home and family.
Someone in front of me said, “Let’s go to fabric. The line will be short. No one buys fabric this close to Christmas.” I hesitated to give up my place in line, but, followed, went upstairs, and there, the line was like all of the others. Tired shoppers struggling with packages, waiting in line with purchases from other departments. The only glimmer of hope was this clerk had an assistant, a bagger, which could conceivably make the wait shorter.
We plodded slowly forward. About seven deep, I heard someone voice my own thoughts. “Why do you have an assistant when none of the other clerks do?”
“Oh, I don’t work here,” chimed in the bagger. “I’m a customer. I just thought I’d help out and now I can’t quit.”
It took a second or two for the information to percolate and suddenly my tiredness left. The clerk and bagger were happily and furiously removing tags and loading bags and bantering with the people closest in line.
I proposed a hip-hip-hooray, thrice, and the word spread down the line as everyone gave voice with lifted spirts.
I walked out into the cold night with my parcels, enjoyed the crisp wind on my face, and went home a new person. It ain’t about the stuff.

Two years later, our family gave up shopping and agreed to donate to charities instead. We found such enjoyment in each other, I can’t believe it took us so long. I know this is anathema when the economy is depending on spending. But none of us would change it.

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