Tag Archives: charity

Too close to home

I live less than 10 miles from the deadly tornadoes that hit Indiana today. So far there have been eight confirmed deaths in Indiana, but that number could possibly increase as they search through leveled homes tonight and tomorrow.

It was a scary afternoon. We don’t have a basement, but thankfully we were able to wait out the storms in the basement at a friend’s house, and we are safe and sound tonight. We escaped the storms without any injuries or damage to our home. But we have neighbors not far away who have lost everything — some of them even their lives.

Please consider giving what you can to the Red Cross or another disaster relief organization to help those in Indiana, Alabama, and other states who faced deadly tornadoes today as they rebuild their lives. If you can’t afford to give money, consider donating items that may help families who are recovering from natural disasters, giving blood to help the injured, or giving your time to an area near you that may be in need.

My family was very lucky today. My thoughts and prayers are with other families who weren’t so lucky.


I’ve spent the last few days immersed in coverage about the devastation in Haiti. Like the rest of the world, I am heartbroken by what’s happening there, and feeling helpless. Sending money is all that we can do, but I wish I could do more.

Suddenly everything that worried me so much has vanished. None of it matters in the least as I watch people scramble through the rubble that was once their city, hurt and scared and desperately searching for family. I hate that it takes a disaster of such proportions to remind me just how insignificant my worries are. After all, my family is safe and warm with a roof over their heads and food on the table. They’re healthy and happy and safe, and isn’t that all that really matters?

I do hope you’re able to free some money in your budget to help the people of Haiti, even if it’s only $5 or $10. If you would like to donate clothing, food, or blankets, you can check with churches with missions in Haiti and donate to them.

At the very least, keep all of the people of Haiti in your thoughts and prayers and hug your family a little closer tonight.

Give to the people of Haiti

Update: The Red Cross has now pledged $10 million in aid, and the “Text Haiti to 90999” campaign has raised over $2 million for the Red Cross in 24 hours.

Today I urge you to donate to Doctors without Borders, a nonprofit organization that sends medical professionals and equipment to provide care in areas that need it most. The Red Cross is now estimating the death toll may be 45,000-50,000. Many of Haiti’s hospitals were destroyed or severely damaged in the earthquakes, and the ones that are still operational are overloaded. Doctors without Borders is in Haiti providing medical care, but they need funding to offer the best possible care. Please send whatever you can afford to give.

According to the American Red Cross, more than 3 million people in the country are affected by Tuesday’s 7.0 earthquake. The photos of the rubble show the capital city in absolute ruins, including this shocking image of the country’s Presidential Palace. There is no telling what the final death toll will be, but thousands of people are missing or dead. My heart breaks to see the devastation in this already impoverish country.

Please consider giving whatever you can today. I chose to give to the American Red Cross, which has already released $200,000 in disaster relief funding. Here is a list of organizations offering disaster relief in Haiti. No amount is too great or too small.

Giving time instead of money

I’ve written before about how much we love public radio. Our local NPR affiliate is our favorite radio station on the dial, and we’ve gotten hours of free entertainment from it.

As you probably know, most media outlets are struggling due to the recession. As a former journalist, I really value newspapers and other media outlets, but I think public radio is especially important. Not only is it entertaining, but public radio offers in depth reporting on real human interest stories that aren’t often covered on the 24-hour news networks.

Public radio stations have been hit especially hard. Part of the reason their reporting is so great is because donors and sponsors cover much of their operating costs. This model allows them to be free of advertisers who often play a bigger role in dictating editorial content for TV and newspapers than they should. But donors and businesses have cut back funding for public radio because of the recession, leading public radio stations to lay off workers and cut valuable programming.

I realize there are more dire charities than public radio, but it’s just something that I feel is important. I wish we had enough money to give large amounts to all of the causes we care about. The reality is, like a lot of people right now, we don’t.

Living frugally allows us to donate a little, and we do. We’ve sent money to our local public radio station, mostly because we felt we should do our part since we’ve gotten so much free entertainment. We also donate to charities like the American Cancer Society and Ronald McDonald House when we can. But when we send a little money to any charity or cause, we’re often left wishing we could do more.

We’ve found that the best solution is to give time instead of money. For instance, we found out that our local public radio station is holding a pledge drive this month, and they need volunteers to answer phones and take donations. We may not have a lot of money to give, but volunteering is an easy way for us to help a cause that we care about without affecting our budget.

If you’re wishing you could afford to give more to your favorite causes, do some digging to find out if there’s a way you can donate time instead of money. Participate in a walk or run for cancer research, coordinate a fundraiser or donation drive in your area, walk dogs at a local shelter, or volunteer at a charitable foundation.

You may not be able to afford a huge donation, but if you can still make a difference.

Frugal ways to give back this holiday season

As tight as our budget has been, I’ve always recognized how good we really had it. Even when our financial situation was at its worst, we always managed to make ends meet. We never came up short for rent, there was always plenty of food on the table, and most importantly we had our health and each other. Life has been pretty good to us so far.

That’s why even during our toughest times, we’ve always looked for ways to give back, particularly to those less fortunate that we are.

I know how it is, though. When you’re struggling to get by, it can be really hard to make room in the budget for charity.

Frugality is about finding ways to live well and give more to the world around you without spending a lot of money. There’s no reason that charity should cost a lot of money, either. Using the same principals you use to stretch your income, you can find frugal ways to give back.

I hope you’ll consider contributing to one of these worthwhile charities or programs in your area this holiday season. Here’s how you can do it without breaking your own budget.

Shop smart for canned foods.

Frugals are masters at stretching a buck in the grocery store. Consider using your coupons, circulars, and grocery know-how to get a bargain on canned food and non-perishables for a local food drive.

Clear some space in your coat closet.

What better way to clear the clutter from your coat closet than by donating to a coat drive? Your gently used coat could make a huge difference for a homeless or impoverished family this year, and it costs you nothing.

Volunteer your time.

If you’re really struggling this season, consider making time to volunteer at a soup kitchen or any charitable organization in need of your help. Giving a few hours on your day off costs very little, but it could make a big difference.

Make it a team effort.

Many churches, schools, and community groups work together for adopt-a-family programs, bake sales, and other fundraisers. The expense isn’t that great if you’re one of several people contributing. If your church or community group doesn’t already participate, volunteer the time to organize a program yourself.

Remember: No donation is too small.

Don’t assume that what you can afford to give isn’t enough. Even if you can only spare $5, I guarantee that no charitable organization will balk at your gift.

If you’re wondering where to send it, here are three of my favorite charities:

Ronald McDonald House

American Cancer Society

Doctors Without Borders

Did I leave something out? Please leave a comment with your favorite charitable program or organization! Let’s all find a way to give back this season!

Overloaded with free samples or drugstore deals? Donate them for a good cause!

I just came across a great idea for donating unused drugstore deals or free samples, and I wanted to pass it along.

I know a lot of frugal folks collect tons of free samples or stockpile toiletries with the drugstore deals. Lately, I’ve been reading posts from a lot of you about how your stashes have gotten out of control. If you fall into this category and you’ve collected way more free samples or drugstore deals than you can reasonably use, consider donating them to a homeless or domestic violence shelter.

I stumbled across this MySpace page that shares the idea, and I think it’s a great concept.

This website from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development offers resources about homeless shelters in your area. Find one near you, and see if they participate in a program like this.

You can also contact local domestic violence shelters to see if they’re interested in donations.

If you find a participating organization, not only will you be donating to a good cause, but you’ll clear some clutter from your home. It’s win-win!

Has anybody had any success with this? Please let me know!