Monday, December 31, 2012

It's December 31st - the Perfect Time for Procrastinating Do-Gooders!

Howdy folks!

It's the last day of 2012!

Finally I am getting off my procrastinating duff and making my year-end charitable gifts.

This brings me to an interesting "vegan-ish" topic.  As you might expect, being a long-time vegan or vegan-ish lady, this year I donated to vegan-oriented groups like Vegan Outreach, Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, Animal Place, and Oakland Veg Week (through Bay Area Vegetarians).

But I also donated to San Francisco Marin Food Bank, Alameda County Meals on Wheels, and SF Meals on Wheels, which provide food for the poor in our community and for senior citizens.

Initially I did not want to support the Food Bank or Meals on Wheels because then some of the money goes to support animal cruelty, through the foods that are purchased.  I looked for local charities that provide all vegan food to people in need, but I did not find any, except for this one in Canada (and I think their food might be vegetarian, not vegan).   Since this was the best I could find, I thought about simply donating to the Ontario Vegetarian Food Bank instead of to my local one.  (They do take donations online.)

In the end ... after some thought, I decided I should donate to the people who are struggling in my local community.  Even though we don't have a vegan food bank here, not yet ... I feel it's important to lend these folks a helping hand right now, rather than waiting until these programs become completely veganized.

What do you think?  Should vegans donate to their local not-vegan food banks or not?

Also, how do you feel about charitable giving?

Personally I like the idea of giving to organizations that mean something to you, or to the person you are trying to get a gift for, rather than spending money on expensive gifts at Christmas time.  What makes me sad is that often times, money is spent on material things that the gift recipient doesn't even want.  The ever-present Christmas question is: "What do you get for the guy who has everything?"   Which is kind of silly, isn't it?  If the guy has everything, why worry about getting him a gift at all?  Instead, let's ask questions like: "What can we get for the people who don't have enough?"  Or, "how can we use our money to build up our community and make it a better place for everyone to live?" 

Maybe I'm too Pollyanna-ish, but this is the kind of Christmas giving I'd like to see more of.  :)  I bet "the guy who has everything" would be very touched to see that his family members made a donation in his honor to his favorite school's scholarship program or some other cause that is dear to his heart.  Then, instead of spending a whole day sitting around, opening gifts, people could create new traditions like going on a hike as a family.  After hiking to the top of the hill, everyone exchanges cards with notes explaining what charitable contributions were made in honor of this person and that person.  Or if the weather if bad outside, just stay inside for a family game night, or reading night, TV night, baking night, whatever ... and the ceremony can be exchanging cards and notes of charitable contributions.  The excitement could be, I wonder what charity Aunt Nettie thinks represents me?  Wouldn't that be fun?  What do you think?

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