Friday, December 01, 2006

'Tis the season for giving

The warm weather we had up until yesterday is now gone. No more days in the mid-teens...looks like Old Man Winter has finally arrived because I can hear the dull roar of the wind outside.

Work today was pretty much a write-off. What did I do? Well. I was on Friday Snacks duty, so I stopped to pick up a dozen chocolate croissants, bagels and assorted cream cheese for my group. It rained pretty much ALL day today so I was delayed getting into the office until about 9am, which left my co-workers rather restless, waiting impatiently for breakfast to arrive. All told, we killed about an hour chatting about nothing. I went back to my desk and pretended to work, but mostly just shuffled papers about and surfed the net.

My company is participating in the ChumCity Christmas Wish and matching all employee donations: for every toy that is donated, they will match it with a $20 donation, and for every food item, $2 will be donated. Each year, my colleagues and I contribute $20 each to a pot and then go out to Costco to buy food. I collected $240 earlier this week and went shopping during the lunch hour with some co-workers. We cruised the aisles, grazing on the samples (the 6 cheese pizza was tops on my list today) and stocked up on various canned goods, pastas, baby formula, etc. When we checked out, we warned the cashier that we had a budget to stick to....and boy were we close! We could have been on the Price is Right because our final bill was $240.60!! We joked about how we'd have to collect an extra nickel from everyone in the group.

We didn't do an actual count of how many individual items we bought because some were cases of 12 cans, others were 9 or 6 and there were shrink-wrapped packages of 6 or 9 or 24 boxes of dried goods like instant noodles. But if I were to guesstimate, there were probably about 250 our combined donation yielded a return of about 300% to the charity drive.

We were talking, too, the other day about how we can make the most of our giving...and my friend had suggested buying toys for the toy drive in which part of the proceeds of its sale were earmarked for charity...we'd essentially be giving 3 times! The first time when we buy the toy, the second time when we donate it to toy drive, and the third time when the company matches it with the $20 donation!

The great thing is that these toys don't usually cost very much either...these ones at the HBC family of stores only cost $5.99, and all net proceeds go to health, wellness and educational programs in local communities! So, if you were going to spend, say, $40 on a Barbie, you could make your money go that much further by spending it on a $6 plush toy - particularly if your company has a policy of matching individual donations by $x. There are lots of other retaliers with similar it's a great opportunity to make the most of your gift.

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