Saturday, December 14, 2013

Altruism isn't born . . .

. . . it’s learned when your mommy takes away your birthday presents and makes you cry . . . oh wait, did I just say that out loud?!

The other day I went to a meeting for a wonderful philanthropic organization.  While there, a woman made an extraordinary statement that really resonated with me.  She said “philanthropy is not innate, it’s learned.”  I truly believe this whole heartedly – I learned from my mom who I remember letting me put dollars in the red buckets and adopting children from the “wish trees” at the mall AND, from both my parents who I can’t get to stop meeting with the Development Officer at their alma mater who keeps convincing them to give their University all of my inheritance.  Oh, wait, I said that out loud too, didn’t I??!! 

During this season of giving, I began reflecting on what I might be teaching my girls (other than cuss words, smart@$$es)!  And then I realized that as with anything in this Runamuk household, it hasn't always been pretty!  The intent is there, but the execution is sometimes lacking!  :-)

6 months ago following a particularly annoying episode of cleaning up one too many naked Barbies (who I'm pretty certain have not had clothes since the girls opened them), 15 too many doll shoes (15 individual shoes, NOT pairs), and 10 Happy Meal toys that the girls haven’t touched in 2 years, I decided that for the girls’ birthdays, rather than gifts from their friends, they would tell their friends about a charity to which they wanted to donate items. Of course, when I informed the girls of this, you would have thought I took away their birthdays . . . oh wait . . .

The screaming, yelling and crying in the backseat of the car could be heard for miles!

Of course, it wasn’t until a few days later that I realized this idea may have been the result of a particularly bad case of PMS.  But, I had already committed, and the more people I told about it, the more encouragement I got.  So, I decided we were going for it!  

But, as we come to the end of another giving season, mommy decided to share what she learned in 2013 about charity that's Runamuk:
1)   When you inform your children that you have a “fun new project”, make sure the way you phrase it does not start with “Birthday” and end with “no more presents from friends.”  For if you do not, the noises coming from the car may sound as though you are beating the children (which you may start doing if they don't stop yelling).  Oh, wait, there I go again thinking out loud!!!.  In mommy’s defense, she didn’t take away ALL presents (i.e. those from family), just the presents from friends. And, much to mommy's shock and delight, the girls have fully embraced this and now really enjoy deciding which charity to help!
     2)   When you do a philanthropy project involving candy, make sure you have a candy scale.  For if you do not, you may find that you have to weigh YOURSELF along with the candy and you have a strict rule about NEVER getting on a scale!!  

      After this mommy realized she needed to stop playing “one for you, one for me” with the children’s Halloween candy.

     3)   Don’t ask the baby to find a canned food stop!  For is you do, a fight will break out when the Id is convinced that she read “candy food” and the Ego KNEW it was “canned food”.  Of course, mommy was confused and thought she needed to go get some candy to drop off!

     4)   When checking your iAllowance app to see how much allowance your child has, make sure you don’t mistake her “charity” bank for her “allowance” bank.  I’ll be D@mned if I didn’t allow the Ego to purchase waaaaaaay too much candy at the movie theater because I thought she had $16 in allowance.  She actually had negative $2 and has been trying to pay it off ever since!  Oooops (and yes, I am that mean mommy who makes her pay it off rather than forgive the debt even though it was my fault she overdrafted.  Girlfriend never should have had that much candy to begin with!)

Since the Superego’s birthday last May (when we first instituted our “no presents” birthdays) we extended our project to any party that we have at our house, including all of the Camp Runamuks! 

Below is a recap of the 2013 donation projects it has been my privilege to see the girls AND their friends provide (with links to the wonderful organizations)

14 Toys for Toys for Tots

18 pairs of shoes and 8 games for foster children at the Polinsky Children's Center (I wish I could show you the picture of all the kids with the Polinsky representative-I don't have permission from all their parents, or I would.  It's truly humbling to see all the kids who participated).
100 food items and paper goods to serve 32 for food drives and thanksgiving baskets; and
35 POUNDS of candy for military troops (again, I wish you could see the picture with the 35 kids who participated - truly extraordinary)

Hygiene items for Rachel's House (part of a girl scout project)

16 Notes of Gratitude for Wounded Warriors
And one project I didn't get a photo of -  

School supplies for children on an Indian Reservation

And, with their iAllowance Charity bank accounts, each of the girls chose an end of year project:

Superego – Toy for Toys for Tots + plus an $8.12 donation from the Superego’s charity bank account to buy more toys (all her idea, by the way)

Ego - Cat and Dog food and treats from the Helen WoodwardAnimal Center Wish List + $8.12 donation to the “greatest need”.

Id - Canned food for the “candy food drive”!

With extraordinary gratitude for the gifts in my life and the ability to watch my girls and their friends pay it forward, I wish you a joyous and magical holiday season!

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