Finding Yourself: Charity

Hello Readers!  Over the past couple of months, I’ve mentioned finding yourself with spiritual study and with support groups.  Today, I want to talk about something very special to me, especially as we get closer to the holiday season.  It’s time to talk about how charities can help you find yourself and how there’s more to being charitable than just writing a check.

First, I want to talk about monetary donations.  We all know that we should tithe 10% of our pay, but how many actually do this?  And to whom do you give the money?  There are many who don’t tithe their 10%, and many may say that they do donate to their charity of choice: themselves.  But there is always someone in need in the world, and 10% can go far to helping out a person in need.  And if you get it taken out of your check before you receive your pay, you won’t even notice that it’s missing.

But how do you do that?  First, check with your human resources representative to see if you can have your charitable contributions taken from your paycheck through work.  Some companies offer this service to their employees or have the capability of doing this, though it may require paperwork from you.  You will need to find the tax exemption code for your charity of choice, which can typically be done via a web search.  Bear in mind that some of the larger charities, such as the Salvation Army, may have specific tax codes for regions rather than just one for their entire charity. I learned this when I set up my charity contribution through my previous employer.

Now, if your employer is able to take the contribution from your paycheck, you will see the amount in your stub but you won’t even notice the change in your pay.  It takes a little time to adjust, but you can adjust.  Another perk to doing your tithing this way is that the charitable amount will reflect on your tax paperwork and it will be easy to add your charitable contributions to your taxes at the end of the year and have proof since your employer will list it on your W2.  It makes tax time so much easier if this is a possibility for you.

Now, if your employer doesn’t offer this or isn’t able to do this, not to fret.  Check with your bank to find out if it would be possible to make the donation when your paycheck comes to your account.  They may be able to set this service up to you, though they may charge a fee for this service.  Yes, it sucks, but it would also mean that you won’t have to worry about calculating the tithe out.  And, you won’t even notice it missing from your account.  Plus, the transactions will be on your statements so you can easily add them up each year for tax purposes while having a paper trail just in case.

But what if you don’t work?  What if, like me, you’re a SAHM?  You can still do your part for charities.  After all, as the old saying goes “time is money”.  You can donate your time and help out a local charity.  When I worked, I used to participate in local 5K Runs for charities like the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation and the Susan Komen Race for the Cure.  Typically, you can find out about similar runs and charity events through your chamber of commerce or your city event’s website.  Typically, the proceeds from your entry fees go toward the charity or foundation.

You can also volunteer to help out physically at local charities.  My husband Ryan and I used to volunteer to help out at our local food bank.  And my brother in law used to volunteer weekly at the local Catholic charity with their donations for their thrift store.  Charities often rely on volunteers because they otherwise have to pay for someone to help them.  By donating your time, you give them the opportunity to apply their funds to their cause.  Some of the charities that always need help are local food banks, shelters, soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, or kid’s clubs like Boys & Girls Club or Big Brother/Big Sister.  Just bear in mind that places like Boys & Girls Club may require a background check, and they may not pay for that service.  Still, it’s worth it to help out those in need.

A final way to help out is to donate items.  I just finished cleaning out my closet, my shoes, and switching over my wardrobe to my cold weather clothing a couple of weeks ago.  While doing so, I made sure my clothes were up to date and were items that I would wear again.  I do this every time I switch over my wardrobe.  I ensure that the seasonal clothing getting put away is only what I wore in the last few months.  If not, it either gets thrown away (if stained or ruined) or it gets put in my donation pile.  But I also sort through the clothes in my upcoming seasonal wardrobe.  Sometimes, I hang onto a shirt or a skirt that I might not have worn that season but that I might still wear because I still like it.  So it’ll get packed away with my seasonal clothes.  And when I pull it out the next time, my opinion about the item might change.  So I’ll add it to my donation pile instead of keeping it.

This time, I also sorted through my shoes, too.  I still had heels and dress shoes left from my career days that I know I will never wear again or that no longer fit my feet due to spreading after my weight gain.  So, I sorted through my shoes and cleared out all but what I wear now–I’m now down to one pair of sneakers per season plus my Ryka cross trainers, two pair of wedges (one black, one brown), one pair of tan dress flats, my house flip flops, my black flat sandals, and my new brown winter boots, and I may get rid of a couple more pair, depending on how my new set goes.

Anyway, the shoes that were still in excellent condition or were rarely worn, like the brand new heels that I purchased for a Christmas work party four years ago (only worn once), were added to my donation pile.  And the two bags of donation items are now in my car to take to our local Catholic charity for their thrift store.  The proceeds from their thrift store goes toward helping those in need, so this is one more way I can help those less fortunate without having to donate funds that I don’t have because I’m a SAHM.  We all have items in our homes–clothes, books, children’s clothes, movies, etc–that we can donate to charities like FISH, thrift stores (who usually help a cause like SPCA, Goodwill, the Catholic charities, or special needs persons), libraries, churches, and food banks.  As an added bonus it can give you an opportunity to declutter your home and feel exhilarated by your space while helping others who could use those items.  And children’s clothes are always helpful.  Think about it: how fast do your own kids go through clothes?  Now imagine having to clothe them with half of your own household income, which is sometimes the case for single moms or unemployed families.  Your donations to a thrift store (which costs people less than consignment stores or secondhand boutiques) would make a huge difference for those families.

So, these are just a few ways to find yourself through charity.  What charity work do you do?  I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,

-BBM

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