Friday, December 16, 2005

2005 Christmas Charity


It's bad enough that you all are coming over for Christmas and made me accelerate the basement refinishing from a 12-year plan to a 3-year plan (with 2 years and 11 months already expired).

No, that wasn't inconvenient enough.

Now we have to pick a charity to boot?

Fine - should be simple enough, no?
Not really . . .

First off, last time we were given this responsibility we picked the Christ Child Society. Now I love my mother-in-law, almost as much as I love my mother, and they are a very fine and worthy organization, but . . . {yawn} . . . "been there, done that".

No, we really wanted to pick a charity that we could get excited about.
Emotionally aroused. Stirred. Feeling a very strong emotion.
Atingle. Fired up. Thrilled. Worked up. Psyched. Stoked. Turned-on.

That's were the problem came in. How to pick a charity we could get excited about that wouldn't upset the neocon half of the family? (for the record, Joe tested out as a 'realist', not a 'liberal' - who knew?)

I got it!

Let's meet in the middle on something. How about if we pick a charity that supports military families? We find it very disappointing that in this current political climate if you oppose the war you are somehow un-patriotic, un-american and you don't support the soldiers.

So let's support the soldiers. But how?

Not knowing any specific charities, I did some research online. This is where it gets tricky.

I googled "Military Family Support".
OK, that didn't really help.
Too many to choose from.

Then I remembered seeing a billboard by the Zilwaukee bridge on the way up north with brother Mike (this was the older, shorter brother Mike, not the new, taller brother Mike) about "America Supports You". I found their website. It's not a '.com' or '.org', it's '.mil' - i.e. - military . . . must be legit. (it is - it's the department of defense).

They had a listing of charities.
Ok, this narrows it down some.
27 to pick from.

Let's throw out the big ones - the American Red Cross - not that we have anything against the Red Cross - remember, we are looking for something more unique than them.

Also, we're gonna pass on the specific branch ones - Marine Moms Online, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, Air Force Aid Society, etc. I am sure they are all fine organizations (actually, I'm not sure of that - but I'm getting ahead of myself) We were hoping to be more broader scope than this.

The first one to catch my eye was the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund. Sounds good. Checked out their website. Look's nice. But who they hell are they really? How do i know if they are a legit charity? There's got to be a way to check them out, no?

Let's google "charity watchdog".

Cool - the American Institute of Philanthropy - after all, they were mentioned in the article I found.

So I pull up their website and go to their top rated charities. They have them broken down in categories, including one for "Veteran's & Military".

Hell, this is gonna be a piece of cake . . .

Shit! They don't recommend any.

Maybe I am barking up the wrong tree. Let's check out the list of charities they recommend and see if any of them get me stirred up. With the categories they have I can eliminate these right away:

It's a safe bet that none of those would fly.

So let's see what else was available . . .
Hey! We're part hispanic.

And the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund got an A+.

Let's check them out.
Hmm . . .
"MALDEF Opposes Samuel Alito's Nomination to U.S. Supreme Court. Ann Marie Tallman, President and General Counsel, releases statement."
Ok, so they won't work . . .

Then I am thinking that maybe D.A.R.E. would be listed.
They have done a good job, no? The older grandchildren - Sara, Mike, Dan, Dick & Katy - are clean and drug free . . . at least they tell us they are. Children don't lie to their parents, right? And parents don't lie to their children, either. {nudge nudge} {wink wink}

Shit! "No top-rated groups"

Besides, they obviously let one slip through the cracks (pun intended) (if you only follow one link in my rant, read this one - it's a hoot)

I figure, can't we can all agree on peace?
'Peace on Earth & Goodwill Towards Men' and all that jazz.
(Or so I thought until I was driving home one night and spotted a bumper sticker on a BMW - I swear I saw this, I couldn't make it up - "Give War A Chance" )

Let's look up Witness for Peace.
Not bad - nice buzzword on the front page - "Christian".
At least that they put the "Christ" back in "Christian".
"X-tian" is just sick and wrong.

Let's review their history:
"WFP activists across the country organized events to resist Reagan's war on Central America. Such activism may have averted an all-out U.S. invasion of Nicaragua, and certainly contributed greatly to the effort to cut off U.S. military aid to the Contras."
I can see brother Nick opening his checkbook now . . .OK, maybe not.
BTW - It really bother's me when the liberal left co-opt Jesus to serve their political purposes. That's the right's trick . . .

Maybe the American Institute of Philanthropy is too damn stringent.
Let's try the other charity watchdog list - Charity Navigator.

Back to the military idea - we enter "military" in the keyword search.
43 results.
And then we'll sort them by rating.

Let's see what we have . . .
here's an interesting one: Freedom Alliance
"Freedom Alliance was founded in 1990 by Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, who now serves as the organization's honorary chairman. Freedom Alliance has worked diligently to advance the American heritage of freedom by honoring and encouraging military service, defending the sovereignty of the United States and promoting a strong national defense."
Perhaps we should introduce them to the aforementioned Witness for Peace. Maybe they can pool their resources.

By this point, we are very frustrated.
And no closer to making a decision on a charity.

After a further review of Charity Navigator, however, I found where I can search for local charities.

I do a search for "Human Services" - "Social Services" - "Midwest" - "Michigan".
Top rated is Coalition on Temporary Shelter - also known as COTS. They helps the homeless.
If you want to support them, however, there is a concert at the Magic Stick on Friday, December 23rd with some really cool bands including the Come-Ons (Joe's personal fav), the Fondas and the Paybacks, among others. Since we'll all have nothing to do the night before Christmas Eve perhaps we can all meet down there for a pre-chicken wing celebration.

OK, Maybe not.

Next one on the list is The Heat and Warmth Fund - also known as THAW.
They offer assistance for low income families and seniors.
What's even better is that our DTE Energy & Consumers Powers match every dollar given.
This effectively doubles our donations. That's hot!! (Pun intended).
With energy prices skyrocketing this year - due to the current administration's pro big-energy policies - energy prices this year will be at record levels. It has gotten so bad that we have chopped up some of our furniture to help heat the house this year (serious - check it out when you come over . . .) There it is - your 2005 charity - THAW. And this is how I stumbled upon this year's charity. And to answer your question - yes - it has been a slow day in the office. I am going to ramble on for another couple paragraphs, however.


Because I suspect most of you, at about the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund passage, skipped to the end for the answer.

For those looking for some free Christmas music I have a couple options for you. The first is from one of Danny, Dick & Beth's favorite bands (Joe is lukewarem on them at best) the Low Life - What Child is This. The other is from the aforementioned Come-Ons (a very cool local band) and their version of an old Peggy Lee song - Don't Forget to Feed the Reindeer. Enjoy these while you can. You may not enjoy the selections I have picked out for Christmas Eve . . . unless you have a sense of humor.

"Peace on Earth to everyone; abundance to everyone you're with"

Joe & Beth
. . . and Dan & Dick in proxy
. . . and Burnette, Fulson, Dixon (who may not make it to Christmas), Muddy & Cookie (Rice Miller)
. . . oh yeah - Valkayre - Beth's horse too

Hi Nick ! - skipped to the end, didn't ya?
I named this years charity at least two or three pages up.
I would suggest you go back to the top and start all over again and read it all over again.

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