Monday, January 11, 2016

Volunteering on a Cold Day

What do I mean by a cold day? Sunday was almost the first cold day of the 2015-2016 winter in the Upper Midwest. That is what made it feel even colder.

This is what the Weather Channel showed early Sunday morning. -9 in Fahrenheit is about the same as -22 in the Celsius system.

Every morning I get a text message from the meteorology service of Minnesota Public Public Radio. Below  is what it said yesterday.

But this was a day for a volunteer effort to help people who have a much more difficult life than I do, even on a very cold day.

At my church we hold a "re-gifting sale" early in January. People bring things they have that are new or very gently used. They are sold at a discount with proceeds going to Mano a Mano. Mano a Mano seeks to help people in Bolivia who need health clinics, schools, water reservoirs, and help adapting their agricultural methods to the coming changes caused by climate change in Bolivia.

The term, re-gifting, may be unfamiliar to readers of this blog who arrive from other countries to this page. Today I happened onto a Facebook page that says this is a term that came from the Seinfeld TV series. It means giving away a gift one has received to another person  because one doesn't want the gift. Of course, in a real gifting situation one has to make sure the person who gave you the gift doesn't know you gave it to someone else. In this case, we bring things to the sale.

On Saturday evening my older daughter helped me carry down things from my apartment to the garage and we loaded up the trunk. I had things given me by two friends to take along in addition to the things I wished to donate.

We got up early on Sunday morning and grabbed a cup of coffee and a muffin. Then we set out, planning to arrive just after the 9 AM church service had started. I wanted the crowd to disappear form the door, so I could pull up very close to a door to unload all this very quickly. We were successful and even had the great courtesy of another woman arriving about the same time to help us unload and take all this up one level in the church building using the elevator (yes, I know it's called a lift in many other versions of English).

Once we had everything delivered we took off for breakfast and then I took her home. When I returned during the 11 AM service, I could see many things I had brought had disappeared, purchased by those who had attended the 9 AM service. The co-coordinators of the re-gifting sale were counting the money and already the sale has produced a bit more than $300. I don't know what the final total turned out to be because the sale didn't end until after the 4:30 PM afternoon service.

To the right is part of the sale table -- everything from candle holders to a baby blanket.

And  what a good idea -- taking things one doesn't want and use -- and turning them into money and giving them a home with someone who wants them.

And maybe here I should explain more. Example:  I took two children's books, brand new that I had always intended to use for teaching English. But I've had these for nearly 5 years -- and these are books that can age -- one was Anne of Green Gables and the other a children's book about Ella Fitzgerald. Both of these books are ageless, and now apparently in the hands of children who will enjoy them.

If any reader is interested in learning more more, please do click on the Mano a Mano link above. Donations are welcomed at any time of the year. Presently I'm helping, as a volunteer, to take paper records about donors from paper to an electronic form. I was surprised and gratified to find that in addition to donations from people in the United States, donations have been received electronically from donors in Canada, France, Germany, and Costa Rica.

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