August 13, 2010

Nice Things We Do For Other People

I donated blood yesterday, which is something I used to do all the time, and then I got pregnant (pregnant women can't donate blood), and then I just completely got out of the habit. And when I'm out of the habit, it feels impossible to get back IN the habit. But I went back in time and made it one of my New Year's Resolutions, and once I get back into the system it's easy: I just mark my calendar every 8 weeks and go do it (and if I forget they are SURE TO REMIND ME), and it's a happy sort of thing to do and makes me feel happy, and the people there praise me and give me pizza and brownies, and I get a chunk of time away from the house and children, and losing blood makes me feel slightly lightheaded in a pleasant way, and I schedule it at kid-dinnertime so I get a night off from that.

...Oh, and someone who needs blood gets some, so it's win-win.

I also like it because we've all got our little list of Nice Things We Do For Other People (donating money or items to charity, doing events for charity, volunteering, etc., etc., etc.) and this let's me put something on my list---a list that is right now somewhat lacking in volunteering and charity runs.

The part I don't like is this: it takes 5 minutes for the blood to go from me to the plastic bag, but it takes an hour to an hour and a half to do all the PAPERWORK and QUESTIONS and READING INFORMATIONAL MATERIALS. I TOTALLY GET why it has to be done every time, I TOTALLY get it, but it's tedious nevertheless. No, I still have not lived outside the U.S. No, I still haven't been in prison. No, I've still never taken medication for baldness. Yes, it still happened that 15 years ago I donated under a different surname. No, I'm still not allergic to iodine.

One major improvement is that I can answer most of the questions on a computer now, instead of having someone ask me each and every one including the long ones such as "Have you ever lived in any of the following countries:...." I'm sure this is a relief to the workers, too.

Would you like to tell me something on your Nice Things You Do For Other People list? I think that might be fun, since sometimes these things are kept modestly private (very few opportunities to say "OH HI GUESS WHAT, I WROTE A CHECK FOR $50!!"), and also it would be neat to get ideas.

66 comments:

AndreAnna said...

OMG I donated blood yesterday too! Except for some reason I'm still light-headed and dizzy and am worried I'm going to die at this mornings's Crossfit. So, if you don't see me Twittering in 2 hours, yeah, I'm dead in a warehouse gym somewhere.

Next on my Nice Things List: compliment one stranger each day. On their hair, their outfit, something. a random compliment always makes me feel great, so I want to do that for someone else.

Aoife said...

I stopped donated when I started getting pregnant. I tried to go back when my son was young, but then got pregnant again... Also, the questionnaire is a pain, especially you have sex on a regular basis with someone from an African Country. Couldn't they just note it in the file that my African is not from Excluded Countries List??? It feels really personal every time.

d e v a n said...

I also donate blood! Dh runs two blood drives, so it's easy for me to do. However, the blood drive people can be a bit... pushy... when they call on the phone and INSIST you make an appointment RIGHTNOW. Do they realize it took me over a year to find a time to get my hair cut?!

Suzanne said...

I didn't even know my blood type until I was pregnant the first time, but it turns out I'm a universal donor! Which is great! I can help people! Except that the first time I tried to donate blood after being pregnant I made the mistake of walking over to the church where they were doing the drive with my baby in a stroller and the very mean, very rude worker yelled at me for trying to park said stroller next to the gurney. Like, YELLED at me, after I had already answered an hour and a half of questions and signed a zillion forms. I left in a puddle of hormonal tears and wrote a Very Angry Letter to the Red Cross that I never sent.

So now I volunteer with my mom's group, holding fundraisers and bake sales for a local women's shelter and doing the March of Dimes. No one yells at me there.

sara said...

I have never managed the blood donating. I'm always anemic or have just gotten a tattoo...but I've always wanted to help.

I do volunteer at a homeless shelter for women with minor children. And donate quite a bit to the autistic/mentally challenged. I have a co-worker whose daughter is in a home and I like to help whenever they have events or fund raisers. Wish I could do more.

Jenni said...

I care for my children everyday at great cost to my personal sanity. That's pretty nice, right?

Bratling said...

I've tried to donate blood, but it never works. I have deep, itty bitty, rolly veins. They can't find them to draw blood! And if they do, my veins pop easily. Last time I tried I had a bruise from mid forearm to halfway up my shoulder.

Pigeon said...

Where we used to live there was a program every August to donate backpacks and school supplies for needy kids. It was my favorite charitable donation of the year--I feel its kind of an overlooked need. Sadly, I haven't found a similar program up here in our new area.

Christine said...

I have veins that are very hard to find. Seriously took my doctors and nurses a half hour- at least- before surgery to get a vein to cooperate, and it was in my hand, where I told them they should go in the first place.

So I found that out the first time I went to try and donate blood in college and the tech poked around the inside of my arm until she noticed I looked white and like I was about to faint. There was no blood taken, but I did get a glass of orange juice and a sympathy t-shirt. Oh well, I should try again, but give them a call to make sure they have a butterfly needle first.

I can be counted on into being guilted by lots of people on the street. Most recently it was $50 to Doctors without Borders, more specifically their "feed the children" type section. They were impressed that my husband and I already knew about and donated to Plumpynut (what is given to starving children and from what I can tell is basically peanut butter and dehydrated milk in a CapriSun package). And I was excited that they were excited and then I gave them $50, that I'm pretty sure I needed that week. Ha and whoops. But hey, tax deductible, right? right. We usually do a big clean out the closets, cabinets and give all of our lightly worn, still usable items to the AIDS Thrift Store near us.

OH and the husband organized an Alzheimer's Charity fundraiser/Michael Jackson tribute, but since he literally only did that because he was dared by his best friend, we'll leave that one out.

Becky said...

I used to donate blood. And then when I was in college I "donated" plasma to a pharmaceutical company because they paid me and I needed the money. And then I was out of the habit. I should get back to it.
Reading this makes me realize that I don't really do anything nice for other people on a regular basis. And here I was, thinking of myself as a nice person. Yikes.
Oh wait! We donate to MPR (MN Public Radio). Does that count?? Probably not. Oh well.

DCMomma said...

Every year I try to give to St. Jude and american cancer
society. The thought of anyone with cancer is hard,
but I've lost a few friends to breast cancer, and have many
family and friends who have kicked it. So donating
makes me feel like I'm helping them get one step closer.
I can't give blood bc I'm borderline anemic. So this
is my charity.

Tess said...

One of my favorite things is notes. I leave little notes everywhere for Ava, put notes in lunches or in the office for Tosc, my employees, etc.

I try to send emails in the case of bloggers, if I really enjoyed a certain post.

OH, and I always try to call over managers at restaurants, if I got good service or the food is really good. As a former server, I know how awesome and rare that is, and it makes the manager feel good too.

Swiggy said...

I'm not allowed to donate blood. I've got some sort of antibody they don't like.

What I do to help others without being asked:

If I see a dog wandering a major street I'll attempt to catch it and return it to it's owner. Most times the owner is nearby and the dog just keeps darting away. But sometimes I've had to take the dog home and call the humane society and put up craigslist postings. Some have had ID tags, which makes it a heck of a lot easier to find people ( even just the rabies tag can be traced). We've not ended up with any extra pets, and I feel good when owners find their lost pets ( also a bonus, I save the animal from a potential injury from wandering the streets).

Another thing I do is if I see a parent struggling with a baby carrier and their groceries/tray of food while I'm out I'll offer to help. Most people decline, but some have looked so grateful for the offer you can see the stress leaving their body.

Linda said...

I often write complimentary letters or emails for good service or experiences. My last one was in June when I wrote a note to E's reading buddy. E was in kindergarten and her reading buddy was in 4th grade. On reading buddy days, she came home BRIMMING with excitement "Jessie likes my glasses!" and such. When they were both in the same after school club for a month, Jessie showed her where to put her coat and backpack and made sure she knew what she was doing. So I wrote and told her parent(s) about how awesome she was.

We also have sent - anonymously - large amounts of money to people we knew who were struggling. You have to be careful with this because if you do it to often in the same group, people start doing the math, but we have yet to be accused to our faces. We keep extra money tucked away in a discretionary fund so if we see a need, we can take care of it.

I feel like my job - a nurse for critically ill people - is a good deed, too, even though I DO get paid for it. I am very good at being nonjudgmental and compassionate and advocating for patients.

Emily said...

I'm a blood-giver, too (and this post actually reminded me that I need to sign up for the company blood drive, so thanks!).

Nicole said...

I'm with Swiggy - I always try to help someone with a stroller or carrier, and I always hold the door open for pretty much anyone.

I also like to take snacks to people who are busy and might not have the time to get a snack - someone who is working a lot.

Swistle said...

Becky- Donating to a non-profit definitely counts!

Heather said...

Each winter I take part in the pajama program. I also collect door to door for the heart foundation each year.

On a smaller scale, I make my own cards so I post one a week to someone I know just to brighten their day.

Doing my best said...

I crochet 8" squares for a charity called "Knit a Square" (obviously you can also KNIT an 8" square =) ) that sews the squares into blankets for AIDS orphans and other children living in poverty in South Africa. I really enjoy this because they are so grateful to get any warm square you make out of any yarn and any pattern, so you don't have to worry if you are just learning how to knit or crochet and your square isn't perfect for one reason or another, and 8" is small enough that it isn't discouraging to finish; since it's so small, I keep a bag of supplies in my car for times that I might otherwise be frustrated by waiting (traffic jams, long lines at a drive thru, DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENTS, etc.), and then I can happily sit in the waiting room and enjoy the peaceful crocheting time...if I didn't have to bring any of my kids or if I only have the ones that won't run away. Also! If you sign up for their ezine, they send an email every 4-6 weeks that tells how things are going and has lots of pictures of the children and the squares and the blankets, so you can actually see that you are making a difference! http://www.knit-a-square.com (if anyone is looking for ways to use up yarn =) )

Katharine said...

A few weeks ago I had to have three blood transfusions, which may very well have saved my life. I spent the whole time thinking about how grateful I was to the people who took the time to donate the blood, and vowing to start doing the same regularly, once I'm eligible (I needed the transfusions because I was out of iron). And during the time I can't donate actual blood, I'll be donating money to the Red Cross.

I mostly just commented to say thank you thank you thank you to swistle and all of the blood donors - your donation will make a huge difference in someone's life!

Amy --- Just A Titch said...

I donated blood once and then promptly fainted, so I'm a little scared to try again.

I am a mentor with a group that works with foster children. We try to be a constant adult in their life and help them experience childhood "firsts" that they might not get to experience otherwise.

Brooke said...

Well, I don't like to toot my own horn. I do nice things and they mostly involve money, although not so much lately because we're in a bad spot. I give my friends money for stuff and don't ever need it back. If I want to go out with a friend but she can't afford it, I pay. When I lived near a toll bridge, I would pay for the person behind me. I hold doors for people pushing strollers or using crutches or whatever. I try to be nice whenever I can. I don't donate blood, though, 'cause it messes me up and I'm A+, so that's pretty specific and not useful to as many people as my husband's O-.

Sarah said...

I've donated blood in the past, but I tend to avoid it now because I have small, difficult veins that require many many stabs before they'll submit to a needle.

But I thought I would tell you that in the past year I've had the chance to see where all of that donated blood goes. My lovely FIL has been fighting an aggressive type of leukemia and he has needed many, many transfusions of blood to help him though it. Let me tell you--all of those donors are very much appreciated.

Thank you!

Beths said...

I just wrote the longest comment, but it said there were "conflicting edits" or something when I tried to post.

The main point is Thank You. I had a freak medical occurrence in 2003 where I lost over a liter of blood and had to have three transfusions in an emergent surgery. I know blood is always available, and I know it's no big deal to give, but OMG, that doesn't mean it's not COMPLETELY LIFE SAVING for the people that get it. For real.

Marie Green said...

We sponsor a child in Kenya, which is a family affair, and I feel like I get more out of it than I put in, so I'm not sure it counts.

I also just made a photobook for our friends/neighbors that are moving (tomorrow! WOE!). It took me HOURS to go through all of my photos since 2004, looking for the ones of our families/kids together and then HOURS to make the book. And it was especially hard because I am SAD they are going, and taking a trip down memory lane was SAD.

Saly said...

I do feel charitable and good when I take care of and provide for my niece. She doesn’t have much, you know? And her mother is a train wreck.

I stopped donating to the Red Cross because of the way they harassed me, especially right after my thyroid disorder was diagnosed and I was already having blood drawn 2-3 times a month. But I’ve recently discovered UNYTS which is more local, and was instrumental in the transfusions my MIL received when she was dying. I haven’t actually donated yet, but I certainly have intentions of doing so.

Amanda said...

I run a blood drive and want to say that it IS a big deal. In our area, in the summer, we are frequently within one to two days of being depleted of blood. Sometimes you'll see a notice in at a drive that all elective surgeries in the area are being postponed until stocks are filled. EVERY SINGLE donation is useful and appreciated. So thank you to everyone who donates. And if you haven't tried, yes the paperwork is tedious but think of that as part of your good deed too. The prick of the needle is not enjoyable but it's such a little thing.

:-)

JEN said...

IMpressive Swiz -
I work with cancer patients and they need so much blood. You donaters are helping out so many!

I leave random candy bars on people's desks at work. Especially people I don't particularly care for. with a post-it with a smiley face on it. Often I can hear them asking around about it, sounding very happy.

Sarah Lena said...

When we started 2010, we gave at least $25 a month to various charities. We'd take turns picking the charity and it was really great. I got laid off in June, so we stopped that when we became the charity. :)

Now we do smaller things. We pay for the order of the person behind us in a drive thru line, or we'll help people load up their cars if they need it while we're shopping.

My favorite is my boys making blankets for Project Linus.. that melted my heart in a way that can't be replicated.

Shea said...

I'm so glad you posted this! I used to donate all the time at office blood drives, but since I've been unemployed, I hadn't gotten back into the routine. It's now on my to-do list for soon!

I try and do good things as opportunities come up. I mostly give my monetary donations to Broadway Cares, though there have been others.

I think the biggest thing for me is that I'm looking to go back to school to finish my degree and get my teaching credential (elementary education). I've had a very lucky run of things in my adult life and I want to give back to the community.

I'm enjoying everyone's comments. It's so encouraging!

Maggie said...

Working full time and having two young kids, most of my "doing nice stuff for other people" stuff comes in the form of donating money to various charities. I also try to donate the clothes my kids grow out of to Goodwill or similar. Not very exciting or innovative. Hoping that someday I will have time to actually donate some of my time to various causes.

Melissa said...

I donate blood, but I'm way past eligible again so I need to make an appointment.

Unfortunately my 'doing' things isn't so much in the doing. I donate money to different charities throughout the year but I'm not really DOING anything. So, I don't feel like that really counts.

I definitely need to actively do more.

Jen said...

I grow babies for people.

Swistle said...

Maggie and Melissa- Donating money is DEFINITELY doing something nice for other people!

Jen- Ha! Hard to beat that one, isn't it!

Kate said...

My husband and I bought school supplies for a school supply drive at our church last night. This felt good and was so much fun!! I love buying school supplies, but don't have any children yet, so it was fun for me and was doing something good. Plus we were at Target which is always a plus. :) We made it even more fun by putting together a backpack with some of everything on the suggested list. It was much more fun than just throwing 20 spiral notebooks into the cart. Plus we made sure to get the "good" crayons and markers - not just the cheap ones. And we made sure to get lefty scissors. My husband is a lefty and remembers the frustration of not having enough lefty scissors in the classroom. It was a small thing, cost us less than $40, but was very fun and hopefully useful to some little kid!

Theresa said...

We pick a "christmas angel" every year... even we're struggling. I like to try and get one similar in age and gender to my kids, that way I can take said kid shopping with me. NB had a blast last year picking out presents for our angel.

Anonymous said...

I tip pregnant servers really well, as a rule. I gave blood for the first time a couple weeks ago and felt so good about it and will do it again. I make sure that I am an organ donor as far as paperwork goes. If someone is embarassed or shamed about something I try to change the subject asap or assure them it's no big deal or tell them some dumb thing I once did. I try to smile and make eye contact with and generally be the kind of restaurant goer that servers don't hate.

Anonymous said...

I have an appointment to donate blood next weekend, I'm pretty stoked because it'll be my 25th time! (My goal is 100 donations.)

I occasionally send flowers anonymously to someone who I think could use a lift; I send funny postcards to people on a regular basis because I love to get not-a-bill and I'm sure others do too; and I give meals and baking to a friend of ours whose wife is in jail. He's having a hard time and has two young children so it feels really good to feel like I'm doing something (even something completely inconsequential like food) to help.

All these good deeds hopefully make up for my shoplifting habit. HAHA! (I'm just kidding. Really.)

Erin said...

I thought you'd never ask!

Well. Last week I made dinner for my friend and her family because her son was having a fairly major surgery after a nasty accident. It made me feel like Wonder Woman.

When I donated my cord blood for all three births, the fact that I lived in Cameroon causes ALL SORTS OF QUESTIONING. "I did not have SEX IN CAMEROON. I did not contract maleria," is all I need to tell them.

Anon. said...

I keep some small plastic bags in my stroller so that I can pick up litter whenever I take the kids to the playground.

If there is time left on my parking receipt, I put it in the paystation so that the next person can use it.

Dr. Maureen said...

How come when OTHER people donate blood they get PIZZA and MONEY? OK, you didn't get money. But SOME people get money. I've only ever gotten a small cup of juice and a cookie. OK FINE, I was allowed as much juice and cookies as I wanted, but still.

Anon! I totally pick up trash in the neighborhood! We should be friends. I want to be your friend.

Lastly, I just this second finished writing two huge checks for charity. One of them was for space on a monument, though, so I lose niceness points because I'm so pleased to think "The MyLastName Family" will be etched in stone for future generations to see and read and know how generous I am.

Jenny said...

I volunteer at Second Harvest and my favorite thing to do is to be a "shopper," to take people around the warehouse and choose the food they want to take home to their families. I love to help them get the absolute most bang for their "buck" (actually free but they fill up a sack and I love to cram it full full full of stuff that will be easy and delicious.) Food charities really speak to me and I've been doing this for ages.

I also serve in a Women and Children's Free Restaurant. See what I mean?

k bare said...

as one of those people that had donated blood save my life, thank you.
from the bottom of my heart.

also - i found myself in need of a great deal of plasma.

please, consider donating plasma.
you can read a bit about it here.
http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/types-donations/plasma-donation

i would, if i could...but....no one wants mine ;-)

i send my employees random cards.
hang in there
thank you
you are doing great
for little things they do. they seem to really like that. and it feels good to know that they really get that i care about them.

Bratling said...

Oh, for something nice.. I make clothes for my niece. My brother and sister-in-law are going through a hard time, financially, and since my niece is a toddler, she grows fast. I've been keeping up with her growth spurts and making her new clothes when she outgrows things. While I haven't made all of her stuff, about half of her current wardrobe is "My Aunt Laura Loves me bunches" clothes, and most of her Sunday dresses are my work.

My sister's kids have stuff I've made for them, but honestly, they don't need them as bad as Evie does. My sister and her husband are doing just fine and don't need help. My brother, however, he and his family are struggling like so many other people are.

I get rewards, though. :) Hugs, kisses, and Evie snatching away her new clothes from her Mommy and proclaiming that they're hers!

nic said...

I do what many people here do - donate blood, pick up trash, help people with strollers/heavy luggage, keep doors open, donate to charity, sponsor a kid in tanzania and one in egypt, and i always try to be as nice as possible to customer service people. Oh, and i always end up fixing everyone's leaking toilets, no idea why.

I try to always volunteer somewhere, and my newest project is reading to young (foreign) children who are behind in their language development. I'm really looking forward to it as it's the first time I chose a volunteer activity based on what I like, instead of what comes along/asks for help.
We're also in the process of receiving a foster kid, but that's going to take at least until december before there will be an actual kid in our house, so that doesn't really count yet :)

Badness Jones said...

Thank you for giving blood. Blood donations saved my mom when she was in a car crash when I was 16. I gave blood regularly for years, but then I lived in England for a year and the Canadian Red Cross has decided I might have mad cow disease and won't let me donate. I have to admit that I don't volunteer or do anything big and flashy for others right now....just trying to be a good mom and a good friend. And I teach a week of art camp each year, including the hours and hours of planning and research and prep, and I do it for a pittance because it's such an amazing program and the children who come love it, and I did volunteer my time to teach an art class to each and every primary class at my daughter's school last year....does that count?

Jess said...

I used to give blood frequently, because my office held regular blood drives so it was made very easy for me. I always had this dilemma, though, because they ask the question about whether you've had sex with someone from Africa, and I HAVE, but the person was from Senegal, which is not on the Bad List, so I always want to say NO to spare the time of the employee asking follow-up questions and then looking up Senegal to see if it's OK that I had sex with someone from there, only to find out that yes it is OK, but then if I said no I'd be lying, so I always say YES and then we go through the whole song and dance for no reason. Ugh.

Anyway, now that I work from home and nobody is organizing blood drives in my basement I haven't been giving blood as often. AND, when I was in DC for work a couple weeks ago it happened to be DURING one of those office blood drives, so the timing was perfect, except I'm pregnant so I couldn't donate. Boo.

However the blood drive was still useful because I saw that a coworker who I had been thinking might be pregnant (not because she LOOKED it but because of how she's been acting) donated blood, so that pretty much solved the is-she-or-isn't-she question for me.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks to my husband's job we have more money than time at the moment so our 'good deeds' are more of the financial type. We've made a point of choosing a few smaller NGOs which make a big difference in the developing world and supporting them generously and over the long-term.

I bake things for people.

Not many other good deeds...running after 2 young kids keeps me pretty busy.

No one wants my blood - I've had hepatitis A and malaria...many years of living in Africa.

This is a good post Swistle...will make me more intentional about trying to be helpful and patient with everyone I run across.

Swistle said...

You guys, you do NOT take credit where credit is due! Marie Green, that DEFINITELY counts! Getting something out of it yourself is terrific, and a good way to know if you're giving in the right areas to for Ultimate Happy, but you definitely still get to put that on your Doing Nice Things List! And Badness Jones, holy crap! That's a really great thing you do! YES it counts, GOODNESS!

Caitlin said...

What a Cheering post, Swistle! I love seeing all the little things that people do (the big things too, of course) - it gives me hope that I am not the only one who will chase someone down the street when they so much as drop a receipt (what if they need to be reimbursed?!).

I don't currently volunteer or anything, but I try really hard to be a good and thoughtful friend/person/wife/etc. I hold doors for people, I help people if they are struggling/drop something/need a hand, I give up my seat for someone who needs it, I try to send cards and such, I send little texts/emails/messages to friends when they start a new job, or I know they're going through a rough time just to let them know I am thinking of them and sending them Warm Loving Vibes...things like that.
I always send a thank you note, even if it is Very Late In Coming.

I donate to NPR, and I donate here and there to friends who walk/run races in support of a good cause (though I must have LOTS of friends with bigger hearts than I because there seems to always be someone running a race or trying to raise money, so it's hard). In the spring, I walked with my friend and her family in honor of her Mom, whom she lost to cancer. I didn't fundraise, I just donated and walked with them to show my support. I felt it was a nice thing to do (though I did feel guilty for not fundraising, I had my reasons for not doing so.).

xoxo
PS - word verification is BACON. Bacon does a LOT of delicious good for me, and perhaps it is telling me that I would do well to remember that.

Elle said...

I don't donate blood but that's because they don't want my blood. Seriously. They have this thing where you have to be a certain weight and I don't quite measure up...maybe some day I will!!!

However, I donate ALL my old clothes (still in good condition and all that) and well, anything else I'd like to get rid of. I work for a not-for-profit which while yes, I get paid to do that, I do not get paid nearly as much as I would in the corporate world so, I feel like I'm "donating" the difference in pay, lol. Plus, I am raising much needed money for this not-for-profit so yay to that! I try to make sure I'm nice to everyone I encounter which could mean smiling/saying hello, helping someone find what/where they are looking for when they look lost. I could go on and on about that stuff so let's just say I try to "pay it forward" whenever I can :)

Anna said...

Thank you, Swistle, and everyone else here who donates blood. My mother is alive tonight and not laying dead in a refrigerator because people like you go out of their way to put up with the PITA to donate. THANK YOU!

lisa said...

We set aside money every month to donate to charities but usually our 'nice things we do for others' are centered around military life. My husband has 800 Marines under him and every Friday I do "cookie Friday" where I bake as many cookies as I possibly can and the Marines come rushing in on Friday afternoons seeking goodies. These guys (and girls) are a million miles from home, work long hours and it makes me happy to bring in home made cookies for them (though admittedly not all 800 of them) (maybe I should contact Land O Lakes and see if they'll sponsor me with a year supply of butter?)

I also help at the thrift store on base where we bag up clothes and toys to send mainly to the Philippines but other countries (Cambodia, Thailand, Bangladesh etc) as well. We also collect school supplies for these countries and the Marines distribute it.

Its been really humbling for me living over here and getting to visit a lot of these countries. I think most Americans really have no idea how poor these parts of the world are---how these people live day in and day out. It makes me proud and happy that in some small way I can contribute something good to someone in need.

Alice said...

donating blood USED to be my one failsafe "i'm doing good!" thing, but then i got a tattoo in february, and even though they let me donate one time after that they CHANGED THE RULES and now i can't donate for a year, EVEN THOUGH i've donated since getting the tattoo, and argh argh mumble grumble.

i'm doing the monthly charity donations on my blog, though - $50/month to a different charity each month - so i can count that, right? it just feels so much less.. i don't know, like DOING something. i can do it from my desk at work, which feels like cheating.

Suzanne said...

I donate blood, but I have also take the extra step to get on the bone marrow donation list. Since I am ethnically mixed (Hispanic and European mutt) there is a real need for my marrow -- but even then there is like only a 5% chance anyone will ever call me for some marrow. My Dad has been on the list 20 years and never been called. But still! Someone might need it!

If I have old worn out towels or sheets, I save those for the Humane Society, they use it for dog bedding.

I teach Sunday school.

I bring food to the food pantry at church and I have even volunteered to give out groceries there.

I volunteer for the PTA and bring carrots and apples to the free petting zoo run by our county as well as give them money. They take in injured, abused and abandoned exotic animals and give them a good home at the petting zoo. Goats, llamas, some alligators that were captured inside a house during a drug raid! Seriously, the coolest petting zoo.

Swistle said...

Alice- It TOTALLY, TOTALLY counts! I think a lot of charities need money more than anything else.

Kristen said...

In addition to doing stuff through our church and financially, I started making myself compliment other women when they're wearing cute shoes or a dress or something like that. It's so silly and I felt totally weird doing it the first few times, but I was ALWAYS seeing women wearing stuff I liked, and so I decided to start telling them. Even a "great dress!" in the grocery store line makes people happy.

Joanne said...

I have no time anymore, so I also give money to various charities. I try and do a new one every year, this year is the ASPCA. I also do Locks of Love and I meant to say, Swistle, that if you are not quite at 10", you can make two ponytails and cut it off that way.

Alias Mother said...

I'm glad you mentioned this, because there's a blood drive in my area tomorrow and I've been meaning to check if I can donate while nursing. And the answer is: maybe. Awesome. Since I've got supply issues and have a tendency to faint anyway, I think I'll skip it this round.

As for me...errrr. Currently my big commitment is serving on my day care's board. I used to serve on a town board but it turns out that town politics make me want to die so I quit that. But can I just put that out there for folks? Volunteer for a board! There aren't enough good board members! Do it!

I also give $ every year to a few places and try to be extra, super nice to people who have to work with the American public. Also, last holiday season I ran a Charity Bonanza thing on my blog highlighting giving, and I'll probably do it again, even though response was weak. I think it's important.

nicole said...

Can you donate blood if you are breastfeeding? I should donate, but it seems I am always pregnant or nursing.

I make meals for people who have babies and I'm on the team that brings food for funerals at our church. I give money to random charities and such as the opportunities arise.

Swistle said...

Nicole- I THINK so. Under "Pregnancy and Nursing" it says not to donate while pregnant and to wait until 6 weeks after giving birth---but says nothing about breastfeeding. I can't remember if I donated when I was nursing or not.

Chrissy said...

Oh, you have such nice readers. I used to always donate blood when I was younger, but then a string of pregnancy/nursing/illness years came about, and I haven't even tried in years. I'll have to give it another shot. It is SUCH a good thing to do, and good for you for getting a night off out of the deal.

We support a child in Nicaragua, and it is seriously the smallest monthly bill that we have, but it makes me feel warm and fuzzy to do. We give to our church regularly, and I volunteer with the kids there once a month or so.

My favorite thing to do is to bring meals to people when they are sick/having babies/having a rough time. There have been so many times that other people have done that for me, and I just loved it. Also people have anonymously given us money in difficult times, but I haven't gotten into a place where I can reciprocate that yet. Sure hope to.

Joanne said...

Oh I forgot, we support a child in India through Compassion, which I like a lot. We exchange letters and she's super cute and draws me pictures, etc. I send her pictures of my kids and it's a nice thing. It costs about $40 a month, I think.

Bon said...

this is making me realize a) i haven't donated blood in years b) donating blood really helps people and c) i need to do nicer things for people. :)

um, thanks?

Raisin'Cookies said...

I haven't started yet, but that's because we are on family vacation and I can't, but I will soon be donating breastmilk to a nearby hospital's NICU. I am super excited about it, because my LAST BABY (sob) is already 10 weeks old (like, who told her she was allowed to grow so fast?) and it will be my last chance to do something like this.

It will also give me the perfect excuse to make and eat lots of lactation cookies. Yum!

Emily R said...

I watch other people's kids to give them a break. I bake cookies. A LOT. I try to find out what my friends' drinks are, and then just bring it by. Because a Dr. Pepper or whatever your pleasure can sure perk up an afternoon.
I guess it's obvious I have little kids and so do most people I know.