Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Thursday Thirteen #348

13 charities I supported last year. President Biden has said, "Don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I'll tell you what you value." That quote is top of mind for me this time of year as I pull together receipts for my tax preparer. 

I gave to 27 charities last year* and here are the top 13, highest to lowest. The President is right: this list does reflect my values.

1. My church.

2. My local food pantry. Because these are my neighbors.

3. Harmony House for Cats. Chicagoland has many animal shelters, but I give the most support to this one. They do great work but are somehow under the radar when it comes to PR.

4. Feeding America. This organization supports food pantries and meal programs all over the country.

5. Doctors Without Borders. I'm so glad I give to this one regularly. Whenever I see stories about suffering in faraway places like Gaza or Ukraine, I want to help! Then I realize I already have, because Doctors Without Borders is already there.

6. Greenpeace. I do this in memory of my mom. She worried about the impact of climate change on endangered species.

7. Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. If you read this blog, this one is not a surprise. My favorite ballplayer of all time is devoted to paying it forward, and he inspires me to help. His foundation helps families battling cancer with all the things insurance doesn't cover, including parking and meals at the hospital, rent and mortgage relief, and Christmas presents. Rizz survived cancer as a teen and his experience has informed where the money goes.

8. Planned Parenthood. I am personally opposed to abortion, but that is based on my faith. In America, we should not legislate one religion's tenet over another. Speaking with my Jewish friends about abortion has strengthened my belief that outlawing it is UNAmerican because it blurs the line between Church and State. Also, I just want every woman to have reproductive healthcare so every mom will be healthy and every baby will be wanted.

9. The Night Ministry. Because the homeless are our neighbors and this group helps provide shelter and healthcare.

10. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. I can be pretty corny when it comes to patriotism, but I genuinely believe this true: knowing where we've been helps us decide where we want to go. This foundation is so effective in bringing the 18th century to life.

11. Marine Toys for Tots. First in advertising and now at the card shop, I have been involved in commercializing Christmas for nearly 45 years. This is my penance. If I'm going to promote Christmas as on occasion for stuff, I should try to put stuff in kids' hands so they will feel included.

12. ASPCA. Supporting your local animal shelter is important. But when something huge happens -- like the wildfires on Maui -- the ASPCA is there to help. As with Doctors Without Border, supporting the ASPCA helps me feel less helpless in the face of catastrophe.

13. PAWS Chicago. Another local shelter that does very good work. My friend Elaine just adopted her cat, Tuffy, from there!

Before you give to any charity, make sure it's worthy of your money. Check it out at

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

*Lest you think too highly of me, three of those 27 got just $5 each.


An unlikely source of gratitude


Look at me, doing laundry! In my own (shared) laundry room, for the first time since January 5. It may sound counterintuitive, but every chapter of this of this laundry saga has filled me with gratitude.

During last month's arctic freeze, pipes all over Chicagoland burst and we weren't spared. That's why it took us forever to get a plumber out here. Our only burst pipe leads to the laundry room, so we were at the bottom of the queue. Gratitude #1: Many neighbors who live in older buildings, like ours, found themselves without heat or unable to flush. At least our health and comfort weren't at stake.

So this sent me to the laundromat. Since I don't drive, I had to load my dirty clothes into a Hefty garbage bag and then drag it in a rolling shopping cart to the laundromat. This trip took 15 minutes each way through streets that were often muddy. I am entirely too old for this shit. Gratitude #2: I used to do this every weekend. For 25 years! I had to get up early on Saturday morning to be sure that I got washing machines near one another. At least now that I'm retired, I could do it at my leisure and on a weekday afternoon, when it's not crowded.

The laundromat itself is a soul-sucking experience. It's the same one I went to back in the day, but it's fallen into serious disrepair. Probably a full third of the machines are out of order. The TVs are always on but it's disorienting because one has sound and no picture and the other has picture but no sound. The vending machines are mostly empty except for a couple forlorn, Jurassic-era packages of Doritos. Gratitude #3: I knew this was a short-term hiccough. I'm no longer one of the regulars.

The woman onsite is responsible for making change (of course the coin machine was glitchy) and doing the dirty clothes that are dropped off and she is small and old. Now I'm 5'1 and 66, so imagine how small and old she must be to look small and old to me. I heard her tell someone on the phone that she works every day until 7:00 PM. Imagine being in those rather depressing surroundings, dealing with the stained underwear of complete strangers, hour after hour, day in and day out. Gratitude #4: I have no training in anything but advertising writing, and I don't want to do that anymore. I'm so lucky that CeeCee took a chance on this small old lady and gave me a job the card shop. I get to spend my time among scented candles and pretty wrapping paper and it's been fun this month to help parents and kids pick out Valentine gifts for classmates. My favorite: this set of heart-shaped crayon rings. A kid can break up the set and tape one to each of his Valentines, and his classmates can trade them for the color they want. Isn't that better than folding fitted sheets?