Charities begin at my mailbox, it appears

When I got a request to help horse breeders, though, I thought that was a little much. 

John Kehe

They start arriving before July 4. By Christmas I have received 23 calendars for the new year. Unsolicited calendars! I don’t mind supporting charities but I prefer to select my own. How did I get on so many mailing lists?

Then there are the envelopes that come marked
URGENT or THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE! For what? To send a donation? Really? Save the whales! Save the trees, the bees, wolves, gorillas, oceans, children ... 

Enticing gifts are often included. I have received enough address labels to last a lifetime, as well as pins, silk roses, water bottles, American flags and flags from the organization, nickels, quarters, dimes, stamps, tote bags, keychains, feathers, hats, maps (of places I will never go), booklets, travel bags, T-shirts (which I send to the Salvation Army – charities helping a charity), all of them “free with your donation.” 

When I got a request to help horse breeders, though, I thought that was a little much. I’m beginning to feel responsible for the whole world.

Most travel brochures also fall into this “are you kidding me?” category. Expensive brochures featuring beautiful photographs on glossy paper fill my mailbox and then my recycling bin. Remove my name from your mailing list, I plead, but to no avail.

Volunteering is the same. When my husband retired, I thought we would see more of each other. You know, go to lunch, see some sights, travel. But as most retirees will tell you, we are busier than ever. “Retirement” doesn’t mean sitting on the beach reading a book. 

It often means helping every organization that asks – raking the beach, fundraising for the Friends of the Library, working the compost heap at the garden club, working at the senior center.

And telemarketing: We get more phone calls now than we did before I signed us up for the national “do not call” list. Imagine someone calling from 6,000 miles away wanting to clean my carpet! Calls come in the middle of the night, on Sunday mornings, and always during dinner.

Catalogs arrive year-round offering items from the past, such as Tangee lipstick, popular in the 1940s. Is this a leftover supply, or a remake? I’m tempted to find out because as a little girl, I thought Tangee was the most beautiful color of lipstick ever made.

About the calendars: In fairness, I must admit that some of the information published on the calendars is often illuminating. For instance, I’ve learned that Congress passed the National Trails System Act in 1968 with the Appalachian Trail in the East and the Pacific Crest Trail in the West and has since grown to include 30 trails across the United States. And did you know that you can find Aztec ruins in New Mexico? That more B-24 Liberator bombers were built than any other American aircraft during World War II? And that the gray whale’s long swim from Arctic waters to the feeding and calving grounds off the coast of Baja California in Mexico is the longest known migration for any mammal?

Everyone needs to help keep the oceans clean by picking up plastic and trash. Volunteers have picked up more than 220 million pounds of trash in the past 30 years. Some wildflowers found on the South Dakota prairies provided food for Native Americans, while other plants were used for medicinal purposes. Help the elephants. Save the rhinos. Asante! (That’s “thank you” in Swahili.) 

The calendars make wonderful stocking stuffers for my grandchildren at Christmas. They love the beautiful pictures and say they look forward to Grandma’s calendars every year, so I guess they do have a purpose – probably not the one they were intended for, but a purpose nonetheless.

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