Charity Update – I’m not obsessing, am I?

Don’t bother answering my rhetorical question above – I admit that this has obsessed me for some time! BUT, this will be my last charity post unless it’s  good news.

Despite last year having spent the year writing  RTS and “Please Remove This Name From Your Mailing List” and where appropriate “I do NOT donate to charities which waste my donation on “Free Gifts”  on charity requests which were unsolicited, this year,  I have continued to receive requests from numerous charities, including a bunch of new names, but the number of organisations has  certainly declined – in fact, I’m surprised by the number of names that are missing.

It’s not the end of August yet, and over those nearly 8 months I have saved the mailings I received. Would you be surprised to know that they weigh in at 2.208kg. The ‘gifts’ and ‘Thank You’ inclusions accounted for just over half a kilo of that weight.

My up-to-date list* is now:

  1. Alzheimer’s Australia NSW
  2. Amnesty International Australia
  3. Amnesty International Australia
  4. Amnesty International Australia
  5. Amnesty International Australia
  6. Autism Spectrum
  7. Cancer Council NSW
  8. Children’s Cancer Institute
  9. Children’s Medical Research Institute
  10. Diabetes NSW
  11. Diabetes NSW
  12. Diabetes NSW
  13. Downs
  14. Garvan Research Foundation
  15. GI Cancer Institute
  16. Habitat For Humanity
  17. Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia (Australia)
  18. Hunter Medical Research Institute
  19. International Fund For Animal Welfare
  20. International Fund For Animal Welfare
  21. Oxfam Australia
  22. Macular Disease Foundation
  23. Make a Wish  Australia
  24. Royal Flying Doctor Service
  25. Royal Flying Doctor Service
  26. Seeing Eye Dogs
  27. Seeing Eye Dogs
  28. Starlight Children’s Foundation
  29. National Stroke Foundation
  30. National Stroke Foundation
  31. National Stroke Foundation
  32. National Stroke Foundation
  33. Neuroscience Research Australia
  34. St Vincent de Paul Society
  35. Australia for UNHCR Appeal
  36. Australia for UNHCR Appeal
  37. Vision Australia
  38. World Wildlife Fund
  39. World Vision Australia
  40. Youth Off The Streets

*Before I get comments saying that certain charities do not have more than x number of mailings a year, it is possible that in my frenzy of tearing my personal details from the many inclusions before recycling the paper, I have missed names or double counted in some instances.

NB Not all the charities included above are unwelcome mail but in order to give some idea of the extent of these mailings I have included them

I have also received a number of door knocks and phone calls from charities and am getting an increasing number of emails asking for donations. Not counted  are the requests which are directed to the other member of the household and which are usually “filed” before I see them.

I understand why there are so many requests for help – in Australia we have a Federal Government that has cut off a lot of funding to community support services and which has been less than generous in recent years for research funding. Worldwide (including Australia) there are so many people living in poverty, suffering terrible natural and man-made disasters, suffering torture and abuse at the hands of their governments, fleeing from oppression, brutality and war – the list goes on, but again, our Federal Government has slashed the foreign aid budget.

It’s hard to understand why, in a country as stable and wealthy as ours, that we cannot provide adequately  for our own citizens who need assistance. And it’s disgraceful that in a world where so many people are in poverty,  fleeing for their lives, or living in the aftermath of natural disasters, that we can’t provide more, not less, foreign aid.

Back to my problem – I probably feel so annoyed by these mailings because of the enormous need to be met – most of the mailings tear at my heart-strings but I can’t support them all.

In future I will be returning unwanted mail to sender without opening it and  I will be writing to a number of charities expressing my concern that lists of names are still being sold despite the privacy laws.

As for donations – rather than responding to requests, we  will send fewer, but larger annual donations than at present and ask that those charities we support respect our privacy.

Don’t laugh! But ….

I had a girls’ night out with my eldest daughter-flea yesterday. Nothing funny about that is there? Oh, yes there is, according to her work colleagues who thought a mother and daughter going to see Rod Stewart at the  Entertainment Centre was hysterically funny. There was much joshing all afternoon about the anticipated zimmer framed audience, much disbelief that she didn’t think her mother would be hoisting her undies onto the stage –  “not even a clean pair in her  handbag?” was the follow-up.

Not to disappoint them, there were quite a few older and usually larger women there in wheel chairs and on electric scooters; a few (larger) men in wheelchairs and a few walking sticks that we saw. A lot of older women, quite a few older men and a remarkable number of younger women and men. But not a single Zimmer frame in sight.

But the only item we saw go up on the stage was a toy kangaroo for Mr Stewart’s little boy. Did I say little? A 70 year old father with a little child? Yes, there he was, a cute little poppet on the stage briefly to receive the kangaroo. Did I mention he had blond hair and was dressed rather in his father’s style?  Black trousers with a voluminous white shirt untucked and appearing as though the collar may have been turned up at one stage; all topped off with a small black vest.  He was a cute little poppet, standing there with one hand on his hip, bopping to the music and trying to get one little foot to tap at the same time as Dad’s.  The two obviously had a very close and loving relationship, but we couldn’t help wondering how often this happened, and what he’d be like when he hit his teens. Time will tell.

Rod Stewart puts on a great evening of entertainment, but he seemed to be very tired and didn’t have the same energy that he’d had when I saw him six or seven years ago. He has a self deprecating sense of humour and sent himself up with great style. At one point a large photo/poster of a younger Rod Stewart was projected to the back of the stage – Overwritten was a statement that he’d made in an interview at that age – words to the effect of “What? You’d think I’d be still singing “Do you think I’m sexy” when I’m 50? I’d be a parody of myself.” He looked at the poster shrugged his shoulders with a grin and launched into it. What fun. My only disappointment was that his voice has changed – that husky quality seems to have gone.

So now you know – I’m a Rod Stewart fan – but not one of those shouting out “I love you, Rod” across the arena.  XD

Charity Mail Update ..

Away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney for 9 days, I had forgotten about my unwanted mail – until we emptied the mail box.  Six mail deliveries contained five new letters in total:

  • Diabetes NSW
    • one double-sided letter telling me about a teenager with diabetes – my $50 “will really make a difference”.
    • A another double-sided page with a letter from said teenager telling her story along with a number of full colour photos.
    • Another page for completion of my donation information. Boxes to tick if I would like to include Diabetes NSW in my will, or indicating that I have already done so. Perhaps I would like to give a regular gift each month?
    • A postage paid envelope in which to return my donation.
    • But – there is hope yet – NO FREE GIFTS!
  • St Vincent de Paul Society –
    • a double-sided letter from the President of the NSW State Council of the Society with a very sad story about a caring grandmother and her young granddaughter and how Vinnies were able to help.
    • Another page for the donation details –  but on the back, after a blurb entitled “Your Privacy” were two boxes – one to indicate if I did not want further communications from St Vinnies, and another to tick  if “you do NOT want to receive communications from other organisations” – confirmation of the sharing of mailing lists between charities.
    • A postage paid envelope for my donation.
    • A double-sided full  colour folded page with photos illustrating the work that Vinnies does and reminding me that I might like to assist with a gift.
    • Another full colour page with photos, retelling the grandmother’s need and how Vinnies had helped and asking for me to help them keep families together by sending a gift today.
    • Having  just told me that my “gift will make an incredible difference” , there is a gift for ME! A  sheet of 9 full colour personal address labels for use on my postage. The illustration on each is of the sky with ‘God’s light” beaming down.
    • Another small “God’s light” card with a prayer on the back giving thanks to God for the morning light, rest and shelter, health and food, love and friends, for “everything your goodness sends”.  It is a shame that goodness isn’t spread more evenly around the community and the world.
  • Amnesty International –
    • Three and a half pages (printed double-sided) from the national Refugee Coordinator about the plight of refugee children in Syria, with personal stories of the experiences of some children.
    • A page for donation details including a box to tick  if I don’t want to receive any more mailings, and a box to tick if I want more information about leaving a gift in my Will.
    • A postage paid envelope for my donation.
    • A postcard calling for action by recipients to urge the Minister for Immigration to increase resettlement and humanitarian places for Syrian refugees.
    • A full colour double-sided “Notes from the Field” with photos outlining the work still to be done.
    • A small colour booklet (one A4 page double-sided printed equivalent)  with photos outlining the difficulties for refugee Syrian children.
  • Make A Wish Australia –
    • A mid-sized envelope – “There’s something for you inside” printed on the outside. 
    • A  2 page,  double sided printed, letter from the CEO about children in pain and the difference a $20 gift can make  – “a life changing difference”  – and the need to raise more funds so that children do not miss out on having their wish granted.
    • A full-page for the donation details.
    • The back of the donation page has the same blurb as the St Vinnie’s: two boxes – one to indicate if I did not want further communications from St Vinnies, and another to tick  if “you do NOT want to receive communications from other organisations”. So it would appear that the charities also contract out the fund-raising to a third-party????? How much of the funds raised actually goes to the people in whose name it is being raised????
    • A postage paid envelope for my donation.
    • A full colour page with photographs and vignettes of various children and their traumas.
    • A one page equivalent story with full colour and photographs of a child whose wish was granted.
    • A gift for me, “with our best wishes” – namely four coloured cards and coloured envelopes.
  • Starlight Children’s Foundation –
    •  Another  mid-sized envelope 
    • A full colour double-sided printed sheet with a letter from the CEO requesting a gift of $40 and a heart breaking story of a young child with hydrocephalus.
    • A single page for the donation details.
    • The back of this page has a similar but slightly different blurb with the two boxes to tick – one for no further mailings from this charity and another box prefaced by: “Occasionally we allow like-minded organisations to contact you with information that may be of interest to you, including some organisations located outside Australia. These organisations allow us to do the same and this way we can reach more people with vital information”.
    • A postage paid envelope for my donation.
    • A small full colour booklet with photos and the story of “My Starlight Wish” by a young girl.
    • A magnetic “Don’t Forget” note pad to hang on the frig.
    • A page of “Starlight labels” for me to use in many ways.
    • 2 cards covered in stars with envelopes for my use.

Home is the Traveller ..

After deciding I would start posting regularly to this blog, I then had the good fortune to be away for the last 9 days. I left my iPad at home as I had assumed that there’d  be no WiFi – mistakenly assumed as it turned out.

We had a wonderful trip on the South Australian end of the Murray River, travelling on a small boat called the “Proud Mary”.  The only bad part, was that I’d forgotten to take my camera.

I spent some of my childhood in Swan Hill and have strong memories of camping along the Murray River with my father. However, the South Australian end is so different – whilst I remember tall river red gums bringing relief from the heat of the long, flat, dusty roads – and the silence except for the bird calls, our trip was marked by the tall sandstone cliffs that the river ran along. I had no idea that they existed. The other surprise was the amount of so many small holiday communities and small towns. My memories of over 60 years ago are peppered with the absence of civilisation. Perhaps the NSW end of the Murray has changed in that way also – and I’m now consumed with a burning desire to revisit the places of my early childhood to see if the same sort of changes have occurred.

The boat we were on was quite unremarkable in appearance, however the large living/dining area was nicely decorated with wood panelling and carpet reminiscent of grander  days. The cabins were quite small but adequate but the bathroom used river water in the basin taps and toilet and I assume in the shower. This meant using drinking water for teeth cleaning and an inability to rinse any light coloured items of clothing because of the colour of the river water. Not the end of the world, although a couple of times I found myself wetting my toothbrush under the tap immediately after placing a glass of clean water on the shelf!

The food on the boat was magnificent.  Jack,  our Mauritian chef, and  his offsider did a magnificent job.  We all came home several kilos lighter – I haven’t weighed yet and might wait a while so I don’t get such a shock ;)

Each day we docked somewhere along the way and either did a nature walk with the Captain, or transferred to a bus for a visit to a local highlight – an  almond farm, a small local school with an impressive and different approach to learning, a flat-bottomed boat trip though the wetlands and more. Our bus driver was a charming and knowledgable young-ish local who provided us with  excellent information along the way.

This is a trip I can highly recommend. One tip: if possible, get a cabin on the top deck – you’ll have more stairs to deal with, but some people found the noise of the engines a distraction when they were trying to sleep. When we docked overnight at an established mooring there was access to connect to the electricity network, but at other places the engines had to keep going at a lower pace at night for the lighting and air conditioning  and probably for the pumps to provide water etc.

Nan’s Button Box Bouquets

Prowling around the web today, I came across this site. The joy of playing in my mother’s button jar is clearly not a joy I shared alone :). If you love buttons, this is a site to delight. What a job – playing with your grandmother’s buttons for your work. Have a look through the gallery and in the multi media bouquets you will find a surprise – perfect for a knitter’s wedding. I would love to put a pirated photo here, but it really would be copyright infringement – sigh ….

A Room With a View …

Room with a view

What a wonderful country we have.

Who’s been getting mail?

Why, me, that’s who. Today it’s the Stroke Foundation. A letter from the CEO, a pamphlet on strokes, a two page letter from a young stroke survivor, and some – address labels in my name …  a very modest offering indeed for a change.

Also an approach by some people collecting for UNICEF outside the supermarket.

NB Just because I’m listing charities here, doesn’t mean that I’m again them – included are the ones that I donate to or have donated to.