Giving Thanks

It’s nearly Thanksgiving – and that means my mail has changed from requests for political donations to requests for charitable donations.  I suspect your mail has managed the same transition.

Sometimes I like to imagine that my daily decisions are also charitable donations.  I feed my family and support local organic farmers and the survival of heritage food breeds.  I purchase items made in developing countries by women’s collectives to give as small gifts.  I donate stuff to the humane society when I buy cat food.

But I hear about serious issues all the time.  The successful drug treatment programs that don’t have enough funding to help recovering addicts get the housing and jobs necessary for their recovery.  The families that cannot send their children to school with any supplies – and the teachers who reach into their personal pockets to buy supplies for those children.  The incredible number of folks who applied for assisted housing – and how few could even be placed on the waiting list – a list that opened for a brief time this year for the first time in years.  The people without medical or dental care who end up in the emergency ward – costing us all a lot of money! – because they cannot afford regular visits to the doctor.  The elderly person whose roof is collapsing, or who is making decisions about whether to buy medicine or buy food or pay the heating bill.

Maybe you don’t feel a need to help provide meals or shelter or work.  There are many other needs in our community, and as generous as we are it always surprises me that some of these needs go unfilled.  The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation supports visual and performance arts as well as non-profits that provide that food, shelter and work opportunity.  They provide grants to organizations, scholarships to aspiring students and leaders, and they allow community members to set up a fund for a specific cause.  

Of course, there are many other local and national organizations that could use your support.

Giving isn’t just about money, of course,  Many of us donated hours of personal time in the last year – to a cause we believed in or an organization that we thought would make a difference in someone’s life.  Some of us served meals or gave shelter through our churches; some helped teach a child or adult to read; some tutored, or sewed costumes, or just raked leaves and shoveled walks for our neighbors.

Whatever you have wanted to do to help our community – now is a good time to get started, fitting it in between the pumpkin pie and the new year’s parties.  

Whatever you have already done – well, you deserve my thanks.

And with this note, I hope you understand that you have it.

(Here’s the most recent report on homelessness in our community.)

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