Three hundred and two

Walking dogs at the SPCA

Jaxx - one of the cute dogs we walked (who is up for adoption) at the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA

It breaks my heart every time I go to help my mom volunteer at the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA.  I want to take all the animals home and give them love and discipline and a home so they’re not stuck in a cage for weeks at a time.  Why do people abandon their puppies?  It’s your own fault they aren’t obedient!  It was your job to teach them that!  And those poor animals that are taken from their homes because of animal cruelty charges.  There are some horrible people out there.

My mother has been volunteering at the SPCA for over five years now.  She is a dog walker.  She takes the dogs for a walk, lets them run around in the off-leash park, gives them a chance to pee and poo, get some exercise, attention, and love.  She volunteers for two hours a week and takes out three dogs during this time.  Every once and awhile one of her friends, family members or I will join her.  She loves it and gets a lot out of it.  She has gotten to know the other dog walkers and the dogs that come and go – some gone quickly, some stay there for weeks or even months.  She has always wanted a dog, but because dad and her travel a lot, it’s not the right time to get one.  So this is her fix every week.

It was raining and cold today when we went (spitting at first, then a light rain at the end).  My mom laughed at my winter hat, mittens, hood, scarf and knee-length jacket.  “I do this in worse weather than this!”  she said.  It was pretty uncomfortable near the end.  But every second of the cold and wet was worth the joy on the dogs’ faces when we played with them, threw them the ball, cuddled them, and ran with them.  One in particular was so cute, I just wanted to take him home right there (every time I go, there’s always a dog I want to take home).  It was so great to help at the SPCA, but it always breaks my heart to put them back in their cage and walk off.  Hopefully they will all find happy, loving homes.  And hopefully people will stop getting a dog, not training it, not giving it the time, love and attention it needs, then giving it back when it’s too hard to handle.

Three hundred and one

A couple of random comments from my tired, lazy, Boxing Day brain…

Boxing Day

My dad and I drove my grandmother back to Burlington today and carried her stuff (luggage and Christmas loot) up to her apartment.  On our way back, I decided it would be funny to see the chaos that is Boxing Day at the biggest mall in Burlington.  My dad reluctantly agreed (bonus ‘good deed’ point for him).  Now there is a place where you can see what not to do when you’re trying to do good deeds!  The stop-and-go parking lot traffic frustrated people enough that some people weren’t even acknowledging when you let them cut in to the line.  Other drivers were dangerously swerving and cutting people off.  I was sure there was going to be an accident.  When we finally got in to the mall, although not as bad as I feared, there was still a lot of people there impatiently waiting in line to get a discount on their favourite Victoria Secret panties or a designer Coach bag.  Happily I didn’t see any trampling or pushing.

As a side personal rant, would people please stop using plastic bags and use reusable bags for their shopping.  It’s such an easy good deed to do for the environment!

Boxing Day line-up at Mapleview Mall. Who waits in line to get in to a store??? Are the deals really worth it?

Pack For a Purpose

Lots of people go on holiday this time of year.  My mom just let me know of this fantastic website that allows you to do a small good deed that you’ll hardly notice and help a lot of people while you’re doing your traveling.  Don’t you always wish you had a little room leftover to pack those things you bought while traveling?  Or perhaps you always leave space for this?  In either case, this is a great way to fill that extra space on your way to your destination.  PackForAPurpose.org is a website dedicated to help you fill that area of your luggage with supplies that are needed in schools and medical facilities around the world.  Their goal is to get every traveler to dedicate 5 lbs of their luggage space to supplies like pencils, band-aids, deflated soccer balls, toothbrushes, and multi-vitamins. It’s really easy too.  You go on the website, choose your destination, and find what supplies are needed by projects in the area.  You buy and fill your 5 lbs of extra space with the objects, drop them off at the lodging, they deliver to the project, and you have 5 lbs of room left to fill with whatever extras you end up with at the end of your trip!  I think this is an amazing idea and wish I had heard of it sooner.  My mom and dad will be doing this when they head to Cambodia next year.

 

Three hundred

Merry Christmas and Day Three Hundred!!!

I love that day 300 falls on Christmas.  What an amazing day with my family.  Tiring, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Lots of food, wine, presents, hugs, talking and laughs.  I am so grateful for everything I have.  Is it a cop out to say my good deed of the day was spending time with my family and giving presents?

The good deed story of Christmas: The Story of Scrooge

Marley's Ghost - John Leech, 1843

One of the most classic Christmas stories is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the story of Scrooge.  For those of you who live in a cave and don’t know, Ebenezer Scrooge is a greedy miser who hates Christmas, meets three Ghosts of Christmas (the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) overnight, and finds redemption and happiness in good deeds.

A great story of someone who finds out how much love, generosity, and kindness brings joy to their life.

An interesting tidbit of information about the origins of Scrooge: Charles Dickens took the name off a gravestone in Edinburgh, Scotland.  He was killing time before a lecture and came across the memorial slab reading “Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie – meal man”, referring to his job as a corn merchant.  Through a mix of the failing light, poor eyesight and mild dyslexia, Dickens thought the stone read “mean man”.  It must have “shrivelled” Scroggie’s soul, said Dickens, to carry “such a terrible thing to eternity”. (scotsman.com)  These were the roots that started the character of Scrooge in Dickens’ brain.

My favourite part of the story is where Scrooge realizes his wrongs, changes his ways and gushes to everyone about good deeds.  Here’s Bill Murray at that point in one of my favourite A Christmas Carol‘s modern adaptations, the 1988 film Scrooged:

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.  And for those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a wonderful day!

Two hundred and ninety-nine

The small things

A friend of mine sent me a video and a little note the other day reminding me to appreciate the small things in life like, in this case, the opening of a flower.  It was also to remember that each day is a gift and to appreciate every smile, every touch, every moment of our lives because it could be our last.

There are so many small good deeds that can be done on a regular basis to help out a stranger or make a friend smile.  Canadian Living has an excellent list of 50 simple good deeds that you can do daily.  Small examples I’ve been making a conscious effort to do include: holding the door open for people; letting other people on the bus ahead of me; smiling more (although maybe not in Parkdale… see my post from Out of My Comfort Zone month about smiling at strangers in my neighbourhood); spreading the word about small businesses I like to help them out; letting go of grudges and forgiveness; and leaving a server a generous tip (I love this one!).

My favourite, and what I’ve been concentrating on the past few days, is giving out compliments.  Everyone loves to hear their hair looks great, or you like their necklace, or the colour shirt they wore that day really compliments their eyes.  Strangers get a little startled at first, then flattered.  (Although the older lady with the white whisker beard and the mismatched shoes wasn’t phased at all this morning when I walked by her and complimented her elf hat she was wearing.  “Everyone loves my hat,” she replied with a giggle.)  Friends love it.  I know a friend of mine had a New Years resolution last year to compliment at least one person every day.  I loved when he chose me for the day.  It made my day when in the middle of a busy rush he would tell me how great I looked that evening.  And since I’ve started complimenting people more, it makes me feel great to be the giver as well.  The smile that I’ve caused on someone’s face is contagious.

In honour of the Christmas Spirit, don’t forget the small deeds.  They only takes a minute of your time and could change a person’s day!  Happy Christmas Eve everyone!

Two hundred and ninety-eight

Donating used clothing

In the spirit of giving things away that you already have and don’t use (like the canned goods), I finally finished sorting through all my clothes, shoes, purses, and belongings that I’m giving away to the Goodwill.  I don’t really understand the human attachment to material things.  I don’t even wear those shoes anymore and that sweater doesn’t even fit me, and yet I have a hard time choosing to put it in the “to go” bag.  How often have we all said: “maybe I’ll fit into it someday”?  Too many times.  If it sits in my closet never being worn for years, what use is it to anyone.  Someone out there will love it and wear it all the time.  Why not give that yellow cashmere sweater that every time you put it on you realize it’s not your colour a good home?  It is someone out there’s colour, so just LET IT GO.  (I might be talking to myself as much as I am to everyone else).

I admit, I am a bit of a pack rat.  I only just threw away two years ago a pair of shoes I had since grade nine (my friends can attest to this – it would drive a few of them insane that I still wore them)!  My theory is if I still get use out of them why waste my money, time and the environment buying something new.  But I’m not sure why I have such a hard time giving away those things I never wear.  Sometimes it’s sentimental value – a special person gave it to me, or I got it in Paris when I was 23 (I still can’t get rid of this one tank top that represents a specific moment in time that floods me with memories – even though it will forever sit at the back of my drawer).  Sometimes I just think it’s so cute and I hardly got any wear out of it that it’s a shame to let it go.  But as I said above, LET IT GO already, Lindsay!

I’ve been doing a bit of research of places to take my used clothes.  (Note first: try not to donate clothes with holes in them or armpit stains – they usually end up in the garbage anyways.)  There are lots of places to drop off your bags full of old garments, but some are better than others.  A lot of bins in mall parking lots and such go to for-profit companies where only a very small percentage goes to charity, so beware of those.  Goodwill and the Salvation Army are good ‘registered charity’ choices, where store profits go to helping people in need.  Value Village is a for-profit company, although they do buy used clothing from charities to re-sell in their stores.  Then there are women’s shelters who use the clothing directly, or smaller companies like Dress for Success Toronto or Dress Your Best for Men that take new and lightly used professional clothing and shoes for disadvantaged women and men looking for work.

About 50% of clothes donated that can’t be used in stores are sold to overseas dealers to sell in Africa, Indonesia and South Asia.  There is some controversy about this.  See Now Magazine for more details and other places to donate your used clothing.

So, moral of the post: LET IT GO if you aren’t going to wear it and it’s in good shape.  The clothing or the money gained from selling the clothing could go to disaster relief, palliative care hospitals, helping the disabled, shelters or many other good causes.