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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Prepared to Help Others? And, A Kink

Do you ever hear someone talking about needs? Have you ever just perceived someone has an unmet need? Do you want to help people in these circumstances? I do. But, are you prepared? Are you like me and have absolutely no money to help in even a small way? If so, maybe you can prepare like I do.

A woman and four young children expected to receive help with school supplies. The organization had completed that program the week before. She looked sad as her fifth grader translated that information to her. Lucky me! I was standing near her and can speak a bit of Spanish, so a friendly banter with my horrid but very efficient Spanish ensued.

We made plans to meet at noon at a local grocery store. The deal was that I would gather my supplies, based on what I had and what I knew about the needs of a fifth- and first-grader in local schools. I had one hour to get home, gather the supplies, and I was hot, sweaty,sleep-deprived, and had locked exbf out of house! He had come to help me even though it would mean he would be here without me for an hour.

Repeating myself from former posts--For the last six years or so, I have participated in the Office Max rewards, perks from bringing in printer cartridges and toners. I have so many school supplies that it will no longer fit in the Rubbermaid bin.

What they received and Maxperks cost:
four packs of 150 sheets notebook paper--10 cents each=40 cents
two spiral notebooks--10 cents each=20 cents
4 12-packs pencils (48)--10 cents each pack=40 cents
two eraser pencil toppers--out of a 50 cent pack that had a dozen or so
two 24 boxes of Crayola crayons--25 cents each=50 cents
1 box Crayola pencils--25 cents
five folders--1 cent or 10 cents each=50 cents
one pencil sharpener/container for catching shavings--25 cents, I think
one pencil sharpener with holes for large pencil and smaller--10 cents
two rulers, wood with metal edge--1 cent each=2 cents

My cost using Maxperks rewards=$0

Now, can anyone tell me the regular retail price of all this? Since I never buy without a deal, I have no idea. Just estimate

The Kink
The mother's phone does text messages. Yikes, until I got my new phone, I had rejected paying for texting. I have never texted anyone, EVER. So, this was an added stress. Thankfully, the fifth-grader, David, texted me and I could just reply. Since I don't have a QWERTY keyboard, texting will never be one of my tops delights. Thankfully, all I had to type was "yes."

I paid nothing for the help I was able to suppy, thanks to using MaxPerks and shopping all the specials advertised in drug stores and Walmart. Now, I live in a small town and am retired. So, I have the time to do all this. You may not be prepared with school supplies. But, maybe you can be prepared in another way when you hear a need expressed.

Yes, I devote real estate for the Rubbermaid bin. However, the supplies were free, and I send a box of supplies once a year to my daughter. Several packages sent during the year for birthdays have notebook paper in them along with a gift.  Unfortunately, my stash overflowed into a huge tote bag. Now, with this gift and some to my daughter, the supply will shrink to all of it going into the Rubbermaid bin.

You have all heard of my Maxperks exploits. This is old news. But, the chance to be of help for someone with very limited financial circumstances and extremely limited physical abilities makes me happy. This post is not to say how nice I am.  This post is to show people how to be of help when you literally have nothing to give. Collecting ink cartridges and toner cartridges pays off in many ways other than the physical product.

Yes, I know I could donate to churches providing these circumstances. I don't. Let's just leave it at that.  This woman was falling outside the church donations, and I could help.

Your turn
Do you ever buy with giving items away in mind? What do you stock up on to donate?


  1. I enjoyed this post very much.

    I've always believed you can help others without forking out your dollars.

    1. Stephanie,
      Thanks. It's a good thing that help sometimes consists of more than money.

  2. That was very thoughtful of you. You were in the right place at the right time. Well done.

    1. Joanne,
      Thanks, I try to be thoughtful! I have offered school supplies to several people and none have ever called me even though I was very specific, saying I had lots to give.

  3. How wonderful of you :) I bet she was VERY grateful!

  4. tlc,
    Thanks. She did seem to be appreciative, thanked me, and helped me with my Spanish when I asked her if I said things right. She said she could understand me. Hooray!

  5. I rarely buy stuff specifically to donate, but I do stock up on nonperishable food when I find a great price on it. I then go through my pantry a couple times a year and if I still have a lot left with less than 6 months before the expiration date, I will donate it to the food pantry.

    One thing my wife and I did the first few years we were married was buy a bunch of toys after Christmas or other times they were on clearance, and we'd save them up for Toys for Tots for next year.

  6. I initially bought all the school supplies for my daughter's children. Then, I realized I had waaay too much. However, I did the same overbuying for two or three more years. How could I resist 10 sheets of notebook paper for a penny, pencil sharpeners for a penny, 70 page spiral notebooks for 10 cents, Sharpies for a dime? Elmer's glue was 2 cents.

    Actually, when I tutored after school and tutored GED students, I carried notebook paper and pencils so there would be no scrambling by a student for a pencil or paper. Plus, I gave each student a spiral notebook in which I worked examples of algebra and geometry problems. Most students tried to turn me down, thinking I was assuming they were poor, or they were not able to pay for it. I assured them that it cost me a dime.

    And, even before that, I held craft camps for children each summer, so I needed lots of supplies bought cheaply.

    Buying toys after Christmas is a great idea! I have done that, too, but for grandchildren. Some things cover a few years of their play life. Besides, I could buy a toy meant for the age they were the next year. I did not buy much, since mailing is a problem. Now, I rarely buy them a gift for the next year.

    Why don't you just eat that food by pulling it to the front and making it a point to eat it? Donating it is so much better than letting it sit there and then throw it out.

  7. Hi! I only just discovered your blog and I am so glad that I did.

    I have benefited many times in my life from the generosity of others; very occasionally it have been a grand financial gesture but far more often it has been a happy coincidence, when I needed something and someone I knew just happened to have it to spare. On those occasions I am sure it meant far more to me than it did to the donor. I am in the position now where I have bounties that I can afford to spill in the direction of people in need. I like the idea of happy coincidence - being in the right place at the right time to help. I hope that I may have more opportunities to be in the right place to help people who might need me.
    Your blog is so inspiring. Thank you so much xxx

  8. Kerry,
    Thanks. You would not believe the times I have offered school supplies and people never give me the call or responded to my call after they gave me their phone number. Strange.


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