Home > Rayne > Give a child a fish…or a Christmas present, as the case may be.

Give a child a fish…or a Christmas present, as the case may be.

December 12th, 2013
Flickr / Michael Hicks

Flickr / Michael Hicks

If you’ve known me any length of time, you know that I’ve been poor since I moved out of my parents’ house. Really poor. I couldn’t hold down a job because, aside from me being fucking CRAZY, there were no daycares in town, and the only people I knew were completely unreliable as babysitters, so I was constantly late or absent due to issues with childcare. I did what I could with what I had, but there were times I found myself homeless with 4 small children despite busting my ass to avoid it.

I went days at a time without eating so my kids could eat. I got some help from the county, but very little. And every three months, I was required to find a way to get me and the kids to an office an hour away, which meant spending precious money on a cab (that was, thankfully, run by a man who had also been poor a lot of his life, so he gave huge discounts to people on welfare).

Sometimes, I couldn’t do it. Sometimes, there just wasn’t enough money to feed the kids and catch a ride to social services. Especially in summer, when Head Start was closed. I don’t think people really understand everything Head Start does for low income families. So my benefits would expire, and I’d have to start the whole process again, which could take three months by itself. In those times, without WIC, HUD, and HEAP, my kids and I would have died of starvation and the elements.

Holidays and birthdays were a nightmare. We were lucky to be able to buy each kid two toys from the dollar store, and we usually went without something else to cover it.

Lately, M and I are doing a bit better, because my grandfather passed away, and left me a small sum of money that bailed us out of pretty much all of our debt. We’ve paid off our car, and bought a beautiful new couch, and got the cats a cat tree that has virtually ended Bash’s incessant need to scratch the table legs. We were even approved for a credit card.

It’s been surreal. Almost everything we’ve bought was necessary, but seeing that much money going out is enough to give a pauper like me a coronary. I keep feeling like I’m pulling a fast one over on someone. Like that money’s not really mine to use on things I need.

So! Before someone catches on and takes it away (not that there’s anyone who can, at this point, since we’ve paid most things off, and are paying on the rest), we’ve been doing good things with the money, too. Things to help out other people who might now be in the situation I was in back then.

Kano: A computer anyone can make

We contributed to a Kickstarter campaign (that, by the time we found out about it, really didn’t need our help…they hit their goal within 18 hours of posting, and by the time we found it, had made more than 9 times what they needed for startup) that is right up our alley and results in my 8-year-old (when she receives it) niece getting to build her own computer from scratch with her soon-to-be step-father.

This is so freakin cool, you guys. It’s unisex and it’s aimed at getting children into things they’re going to need when they grow up…like computers.

Kano Build Your Own ComputerThe Kano comes with this stuff:

1 – Kano Books, illustrated and intuitive
2 – Kano OS and Levels on 8GB SD card
3 – DIY Speaker
4 – Raspberry Pi Model B
5 – Kano Keyboard Combo
6 – Custom case
7 – Card mods and stencils
8 – Stickers!
9 – Cables: HDMI*, Mini-USB
10 – Smart power plug (all region pins available)
11 – WiFi powerup

And you can build these things with it:

  • A computer, powered by Raspberry Pi
  • Games like Pong, Snake
  • Music and sounds
  • HD video
  • A speaker
  • Towers of dynamite (…in Minecraft)
  • A wireless server
  • A custom case, with stickers, decals, or any printed design
  • Most Debian Linux packages
  • Pretty much anything else, because Kano is open source

There are six days left on the campaign, and they’ve got some really awesome rewards for donations (including Kanos), so if you know someone who would be all about this kinda thing, you should totally drop in and make a donation.

AshlyStar’s 5th Annual Toys for Tots Donation Drive

I suck for waiting so long to mention this here. There’s only two days left for this one. My bud Ashly is full on made of awesome. She’s a rad, sports loving, people helping, super strong woman who I am just dying to meet in person. Might have to make plans when we go down to visit Dad again.

Every year, she takes donations for Toys for Tots, and then goes and buys presents and drops them off at one of the locations in her area. Then she posts pictures of the toys, the receipts, and her dropping the toys off, so the people who made donations know for sure what she did with their money. So we donated some money to her drive.

If you can, you should make a donation to Toys for Tots, too, either through Ashly’s drive, or at one of your local drop off spots. They’re a really great organization founded by the US Marine Corps, and they almost never have enough toys for everyone who needs them.

TheBloggess is Accidentally Doing Good Things Again

I found out about Jenny Lawson when she accidentally raised $42,000 for folks needing a few extra bucks to cover Christmas for their kids. You read that right, and it’s not an exaggeration.

Jenny posted on her blog that she was going to give $30 gift cards to the first 20 people who commented saying that they needed a little help, and was heartbroken when the 21st person commented. But she needn’t have worried because she has awesome readers, and shortly after the 21st person commented, someone who had money to spare commented saying that they’d happily cover that person. And then another person commented offering to help the next person. And it kept going until Jenny and her readers had put together $42,000 and helped more people than I remember.

All this put Jenny out of commission for a little while, because the woman deals with real pain on both mental and physical levels every single day, so when people who were helped asked if she would do her gift card giveaway again so they could pay the favor forward, she had to say no. But she’s found other ways to give back every year at Christmas. This year, she’s directing people to Project Night Night, a program that donates a new security blanket, a book, a stuffed animal, and a tote bag to homeless children every year, and Heifer International, where you can donate animals, honey bees, and training in animal care to needy families around the world. We sponsored a package through Project Night Night.

Either of these are great places to give. Both will help people who really need it.

Bonus Giveaway Entry!

Guess what! If you share this post on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Facebook, Reddit, StumbleUpon, or Digg, thus spreading the news of good deed potential around the intarwebz, and hopefully letting more people know their help is needed, I’ll give you 10 bonus entries in the giveaway we’re currently holding (found here). Just make sure to go to the giveaway page and leave your link in the Rafflecopter widget so the entry gets counted!

Categories: Rayne Tags:
  1. Heaven
    December 12th, 2013 at 21:51 | #1

    This is awesome Rayne you are always doing things to help out people in need. Even over at that name we shall not mention. I wish I could help out like I did over that way but I am in a bind myself now.

  2. alyson
    December 14th, 2013 at 14:26 | #2

    Growing up several businesses around where I lived did either ‘adopt a family’ or ‘get a requested gift for a kid’ sort of things for Christmas. My family just about always picked a few kids to get things for. I can’t afford to do so now, but it’s definitely something that is on my list to do in the future. I really like the ability to get something specific that I know is wanted. It just makes it a bit more personal. (The feeling it’s slightly personal is why I like the Heifer Project model of ‘buying’ for a family or village, although Heifer Project spends a larger percentage of it’s operating budget on fundraising than I’m comfortable with.)

  3. December 18th, 2013 at 12:11 | #3

    @ Heaven Thanks. 🙂 Ugh, I’m sorry to hear that. Hope things get better. <3

  4. December 18th, 2013 at 12:17 | #4

    @ alyson I like the personal gifting thing, too, I just don’t always have time. I figure these places are the next best thing.

    As for Heifer and their fundraising efforts, the old adage, “you’ve gotta spend money to make money,” is so very true. How much money is okay to spend on advertising to bring in more money? I dunno. I’m not an economics expert, so I’ve got no idea how to quantify that. But I also don’t know of any other charities doing what they’re doing, either.

  5. December 24th, 2013 at 09:59 | #5

    I think it’s incredible that you help others on christmas day! There are a lot of people out there who could really use a helping hand, and this may be the most difficult part of the year for them.

    Ever since I was little my family and I donate clothes, toys and games to foundations and charities. Just seeing how happy this makes people is reward enough. #bloghop

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