Tag Archives: charitable

It Really Isn’t Hard

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I have a day off today.  Tomorrow too.  It is the NJEA Teachers’ Convention and despite the fact that I would love to be in Atlantic City taking advantage of the classes offered, this year, we just could not swing the cost.  What some people don’t realize is, while the classes offered are free, the hotel, food and gas money is not.  That, along with child care for many people, is a big reason why so many of us in Northern New Jersey can’t take part in this convention. 

I decided instead to make this a productive, charitable day instead.  My day started getting up an hour later than on a normal work day!! Yippee 7am! I spent two hours writing narratives (5 out of 23) for report cards, updating my classroom website and doing some lesson planning.

I loaded up my car with all of the candy donations from school and neighbors and headed over to a Barre class.  A morning exercise class is a luxury to me!  While there, the owner, Lydia and I discussed her next monthly charitable endeavor.  She chooses one per month to promote. This month, we are hoping to gather donations for the local animal shelter.  Upon leaving there, I collected more candy that had been dropped of to her studio, as well as a bag of food that someone had left for the food pantry.

I headed to a thrift shop that I keep reading about.  The Op-Shop. My friend Eebie works there and she posts photos and comments about the great finds there, and knowing how much I love a good deal, Dave encouraged me to go check it out.  All proceeds go to the church that it is affiliated with, so no matter what I found, it would be a win-win situation! I hit the jackpot!  Sweaters, a suede skirt.  I have a new wardrobe for the winter.  When I left, I was even able to donate a bag of clothing that has been in my car.  I had been keeping it there hoping to put it into one of those clothing boxes found in parking lots, but this worked out even better.

Then, it was off to the orthodontist who was going to take all of that candy!  They had a $25 limit, but I brought them nearly 50 pounds of candy thanks to all of the donations.  Along with the $25, they offered another donation to Rent Party after hearing that I would be donating the proceeds to them.

On my way home, I had two more stops to make.  The first was to the food pantry to drop off that bag of food and the second to another neighbor who is collecting Halloween Costumes that will be shared at the school she teaches where many of the students are underprivileged and not able to afford to buy new costumes.  Those costumes were also passed along to me and I was happy to find a place that can make good use of them.

Now, I am home.  About to weed through my closet and drawers to find clothes that I can donate before filling them up with my new treasures from today.  It came full circle.  Such a positive, giving day and sooooo incredibly easy.  All of this done in less than 3 hours. It barely cost me a thing and in the end, so many people are benefiting.

I don’t post this to make people say, “Great job Claire” but to show how easy it really is.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot to make a difference.

Giving Back

giving back

Growing up and never leaving the community you grew up in, may not be for everyone but for me, it was what I always wanted.  Other than leaving to go to college in Washington, DC for four years, and a spending a few years right after we were married in a townhouse ten minutes away from here, I have remained in Maplewood, New Jersey.  My hometown.  Married to my high-school sweetheart, we knew this was the place for us to raise our own family.

I am sure it is the same in every small town, but one of the things I love most about my community is how so many small businesses still remain and are thriving here.  There are no big chain stores or restaurants. Many of the businesses are privately owned and run by local families.

I try to support the small businesses in my community to keep the local economy strong.  My dad owns one of these local businesses, which makes me even more passionate about it.  One thing that I love most about living here, is how so many of theses businesses give back to the community.  Through the annual Memorial Day Duck Race and school auctions where merchants donate prizes and services to the Street Fairs and Girls’ Nights Out – the list could go on and on.

This week  it has been “Restaurant Week” in town.

Local restaurants aresupporting Rent Party Pantry, Inc. in its efforts to fight hunger locally so come on out that week and sample the quality, variety and hospitality of Maplewood’s restaurants and food purveyors for less AND help fight hunger on the local level.  

This tied in perfectly with a fundraiser at another one of my favorite businesses, Viva Z.  On the last Friday of every month, the owner holds a dance party.  All classes are free but you are asked to make a donation to the local charity she has chosen for the month.  Last month, it was for the local fire department.  Last night, was a collection for the local food pantry.

Maplewood Karate, encourages its students to give back as well.  Students earn blue charity stripes on their belt for donating food which is also donated to the local food pantry.

There is a saying, “It takes a village,” and Maplewood really proves that is true.  Things like this are happening all of the time here, demonstrating how important community is and how valuable it is to give back.  I think it is part of the charm that draws people to our town.  It certainly makes me want to stay!

Selfish vs Selfless

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I began a class today, “Uncovering Your Own Pathways to Success”.  It is a 6 week coaching circle program where you “explore yourself and deepest passions and purpose”.  I thought that it would help me to become a better writer, but even after the first class,  I know that it is going to teach me so much more.  I am going to learn about myself.

The leader of the class is a my friend Tammy and something she said today really had an impact on me.  She told us, “selfishness is not a bad thing but actually something that can be very good”.  I have been thinking about this all day.   I have always thought of the word “selfish” with negative connotations.  I, like many, often think that people who are selfish are inconsiderate and only interested in their own pleasure.  Most of us are brought up to being told that we need to please others and to not hurt their feelings.

Selfish is defined as a person, action or motive, lacking consideration for others: concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure

Selfless is defined as concerned more with the needs of others than with one’s own.

Perhaps we have gone too far, promoting the idea that if we want to truly be good people, we need to be as selfless as possible.

Maybe there is some “give and take” with these two words. If you are too selfish you may lose friends, yet if you become too selfless you may not get what you deserve because you allowed others to take before you took what you needed for yourself.  Selfless does not have to mean making everyone else happy but rather it should be doing what is best for them.  Maybe this needs to start with ourselves.  If we do not take the time to do what we need in order to help ourselves, we are not doing what is best for us.

Tammy said that she believes we are all selfish – that even the choice to be selfless stems from a selfish place, either because you enjoy helping others, because it supports the image that you have of who you want to be, or because you get something out of it.  I never thought about it that way, but if that is correct, than I really am selfish, because all of the charitable things I do are not just because it  helps others and makes them happy, but because it makes me happy too.  Very happy!  The very act of selflessness has its own backhanded way of giving self gratification. Even if I am not receiving a personal thank you note, or something in return, I  know that I helped someone else in need, before I helped myself and that makes me feel so good!

So, although the two definitions seem to be quite opposite, perhaps they are really intertwined because it does not seem that you can be selfless without being a little bit selfish.  If you can find happiness by being a little bit selfish once in awhile, focusing on your own happiness, it will not only benefit you, but may even benefit those that you’re giving to.