So many causes, so few dollars

Requests from organizations appear regularly in my e-mail, my Facebook newsfeed, and my mailbox out by the road. Some send calendars. Some send return address stickers. A few still send car window decals. Most of them send a message that’s hard to ignore. Over the years, I’ve probably supported more conservation organizations than anything else: that explains all the free scenic calendars.

Many of them hope I’ll make a minimum donation of $25. That’s not so bad if there are only one or two nonprofits involved. But, doing this can get expensive when you see a lot of worthy causes. What do you think is best, giving $25 to ten organizations or $250 to one organization? I can never decide.

My website includes the logos for four organizations, beginning with PEN America on the home page: “PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.” For a writer, the freedom to write is basic.

Next is WaterKeeper Alliance. I like their focus on clean rivers and the fact that you can donate and/or volunteer: “Waterkeeper Alliance ensures that the world’s Waterkeeper groups are as connected to each other as they are to their local waters, organizing the fight for clean water into a coordinated global movement.” Many of these groups, called river keepers, focus on specific rivers, often near enough to make it easy to, say, participate in river cleanup days.

I support the Glacier Park Conservancy because I’ve worked in Glacier Park, helped with publications in an earlier incarnation of the group, and like the fact they not only help support park projects but put on their own programs as well: “The Glacier National Park Conservancy is the official non-profit fundraising partner of Glacier National Park.” Their website always lists ongoing and upcoming projects to help park friends understand the need.

Since I live in a rural area, I’m attuned to the fact that a lot of people buy horses and then leave them on the property when they move away, or if they don’t move, ignore the horses at their peril. Just up the road is Sunkissed Acres which rescues old horses that are often sick or takes on horses when owners can no longer afford them: “Since our official beginning in 2004, hundreds of horses have been rescued, rehabilitated, rehomed, and if their pain is too much to bear… a humane and peaceful passing becomes our mission. The horses teach us so many valuable lessons from life skills to kindness, and they have become an integral part of our work.” As they say, they are often a horse’s last, best home.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s coming-of-age adventure novel “Mountain Song” is free on Kindle October 15-17, 2020. The novel is set partly in Glacier National Park Montana.

On the road to Christmas

Actions that are from our desire to receive for the self-alone connect us to the path of Darkness. Actions that are for our desire to share connect us to the path of Light.Michael Berg

Children traditionally experience the magic of Christmas in part by speculating about the gifts beneath the tree. They wonder what will Santa bring them and can hardly sleep the night before as they toss and turn thinking about opening their presents and shaking out their stockings.

As children grow older, they slowly begin to learn that a great part of the joy of Christmas comes from giving, from finding something special that another person will like. My parents and grandparents were far more excited about my reactions to the gifts I received than their own gifts.

There are some balancing acts here. One is keeping gifts and expectations within reason so that Christmas isn’t viewed as a time to get absurd amounts of loot. Another is keeping one’s ego out of the picture so that one is giving in order to share and to make the recipient happy, not to be praised and loved for the size of the gift.

At Christmas time, people frequently say they wish the magic of the Christmas tree were a part of their lives year-around. I don’t expect they’re talking about handing out gifts 24/7 every day of the year. The magic, I think, comes from being willing to share what we know and what we have and who we are. It comes from having a “you first” philosophy.

Perhaps we start first with our family and friends simply by being more available in the multiple senses of the word, and then we take another step and expand on that. And then another step after that. We all know how we’ve felt on Christmas mornings watching children open gifts from us they hardly dared hope for. Their surprise, their smiles, their delight–we can have that feeling again of witnessing that by giving of ourselves, our experience, our knowledge, our time, and our compassion.

NOTE: On December 11th, Shelagh Watkins, creator and editor of the recently published Forever Friends anthology will visit with us to talk about the book. I hope you’ll join us with comments and questions.