Friday, January 10, 2014

The 1st 10 days of giving

I'm 10 days into my New Year's challenge of giving something every day (a.k.a. 365 gifts) and so far it's been quite fun.

As planned, my daily gifts have been a combination of new/purchased items (i.e. coffee beans to thank our lovely hosts in Kitchener) and donations of used items (i.e. a blanket and flannel sheets for my favourite food bank).

But I've had to pace myself and am purposefully not filling up the donation bags as full as I can. 355 days to go, I remind myself. So in some ways this is curbing my generosity.

Like yesterday, when I was at the Parkdale Food Centre chatting with the Executive Director Karen Secord, she told me about a new bakery in the 'hood - Bread By Us. They have a suspend system where clients can buy a loaf of bread and pay for another one which is 'suspended'. Karen directs her clients to the bakery and they can receive a loaf of suspended bread, no questions asked.

"Go now," Karen urged me - and tried to convince me that 8-month-old Nisha really needed a cookie.

Sounds great, I thought. But I'd just dropped off my donation for the day, so I'm going to save it for another time. This delay felt a bit counter to the spirit of this project.

That said, I have had to make some modifications to the project. Since I don't usually have access to a car during the week, it's hard to deliver my gifts or donations outside of walking distance. So on the days I can't deliver, I'm setting the bag or box in the sun room. And I'm not going to let myself cheat here (no saying, I'll put that together tomorrow). By the time I tweet it (#365gifts), anyone can show up and say 'I hear you have a donation for ... and I have to be able to hand it over. I also appreciate organizations like the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy who will pick up donations.

This means on the days I do have the car, I'm get to feel like Santa, driving around with my gifts to deliver. Ho ho ho!

But I have discovered that this project is going to require a lot of research, at least if I'm going to stick with my goal of trying to intentionally place items where they are needed and not just dump everything in a charity donation bin. I really appreciate the organizations, like Ottawa's Youville Centre, that provide an online list of items needed.

I'm also keeping a little notebook with ideas for donations, places that accept used items, etc. It's great too that friends are starting to make suggestions.

And more ideas are certainly welcome - 355 days to go!

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