The Art of Giving

Sometime in 2022, I decided to actively donate products, money, and time to others and perhaps make this world just a tiny bit better.

I try to make a donation at least once a month. In recent months I've donated money to the Vermont Visiting Nurses VT/NH, I've made dozens and dozens of sandwiches for a local church to take to Boston to help feed hundreds of hungry people, I've donated my handmade products to organizations for fundraising, and to help with disaster relief.

I decided to make a point of giving blood regularly to the Red Cross. The thing about donation, is that it can be a bit addictive, especially when giving blood. Why? The Red Cross has an app that is so fun to use that it makes me WANT to give blood. It takes less than one hour to donate and they let me do it about every eight weeks or so. The app tracks everything, every step of the way, including when I make a donation, processing, storage, and when/where it is shipped to a patient for a transfusion. I have type B+ which is somewhat rare so it probably takes a little longer to find a recipient but when they do, they tell you the location of the patient. It is quite a thrill to know I have helped a random stranger. 

This year I also donated time to a local church (not my church) to make lunches to send to Boston to feed the hungry. I made dozens and dozens of sandwiches and all it cost me was my time. Plus I also met some new people!

I purchased a sewing pattern on Etsy and found it difficult to follow so I used my 20 years of technical writing skills to reorganize and add information to what she provided. I thought the pattern was really good but the instructions not so much. She was thrilled (probably shocked) that I offered this up but I wanted to help her Etsy business be more successful. In the end, she offered me a free pattern but truly I expected nothing.

Then I was at a craft show and there was a young woman selling jewelry. Years ago I made some teeny- tiny fabric drawstring bags and I wanted to sell them off, but then I decided they would be a nice way to gift wrap her jewelry so I gave them to her for free. She wanted to pay me for them and then she offered free jewelry but I wanted it to be a gift.

These are just a few of the things I remember giving in 2022.

2023

In January 2023, I donated blood again to the Red Cross. Now I am on their schedule to give blood regularly, which suits me fine. This time my blood ended up at a regional hospital in New York City!

In February, an aquaintance of mine asked on Facebook if anyone would like to send a birthday card to a 13-year old, whom she mentors. What a fun idea! I popped a birthday card in the mail and included $5. Won't she be flattered and thrilled when she gets lots of cards from strangers!

In April I once again donated blood to the Red Cross. I had to wait a bit because I had surgery in March. Still waiting to see where my blood goes!

Also in April I started to attend the Wilder Club and Library trustees meetings, which is located in my village. This is a historical building and includes a stage, two meeting rooms, kitchen, library and two bowling alleys. YES, you heard correctly, it has two historic bowling lanes! Of course they are in poor condition since they have never been renovated (built in 1899), but this should not be an impossible task. In addition to this, they don't have any community programs that might attract residents so the building is basically empty, except for a few rental private events and 12 hours of library hours. 

In May I donated blood to the Red Cross but I've gotta say it wasn't easy. They had trouble finding a good vein in my right arm and ended up with a bit of a blood explosion so they switched to my left arm. I tried again in August starting off with my left arm and sadly they couldn't find a good vein. I believe this may be the end of my blood donating journey. One thing I learned though, is that if you qualify to give blood (you'll be eliminated if you have certain health conditions or take certain medications) they really need your blood. With so many natural disasters this year this has become really important.

Moving on to the summer and I donated handmade products to raffles at two  craft shows.

And, at another show and unexpected surprise....another craft vendor make a donation to ME! I was selling my wares at the Mad River Craft Show in Waitsfield VT and another vendor offered me a bunch of milliner hat stands for FREE! I could not believe it. She picked them up for free at a store renovation and never ended up using them so she asked me if I would like them. And, her husband actually brought them to the show. She was a complete stranger and her generosity absolutely made my day. Probably my year.

Here's another show about giving and gratitude, not just mine but a group. The Woodstock Apples and Craft Show in VT takes place every Columbus Day weekend. I've been doing this show for years and this year I decided to move under one of the big tents, even though I set up my own tent under it. I like to keep my fabric items as dry as possible, especially from the dew.

It was a two day show and it poured rain the first day, overnight and the next morning. The field was an absolute mess, mud everywhere. Tents collapsed over night, pottery was broken, fabric items were destroyed.

The other vendors under my big tent remained positive and went out of their way to help each other. A vendor who was camping in his RV got up several times in the night to push the water off the big top to keep it from collapsing. I gave another vendor an extra tent side I had so she could wrap up her paintings to keep the moisture off them. Another vendor provided a carpet to her neighbor to keep people from slipping in the mud in front of her booth, a vendor who also organizes a craft show in Massachusetts invited me to be a vendor at her show, and the neighbor next to me, who was selling baked goods, gave me two loaves of pumpkin bread to take home. As a visitor these are behind the scenes things you are rarely aware of and yet they left me with warm memories of wonderful people who too a little bit of time to make others' lives just a little bit better. 

Looking forward to seeing what opportunities happen before the end of the year!

It's November now and I decided about six months ago that I would round up on every single purchase at a cash register, in order to support various charities. This takes very little effort on my part but that change, combined with other peoples' change, is going to make a difference. I rarely have cash with me anymore, but when I do, I make a point of giving it to the Salvation Army. I figure if those folks are willing to stand out in the freezing cold for something they believe in, this is the least I can do.