Brandon: Charity should begin with…

If I mailed 10 letters a day for the next year, I could not possibly use up all the personalized address labels that I have received this year from one charity or another.

Even were I inclined to use the labels, which I don’t, more often than not, my name is misspelled, or I’m Ms. or Mrs., or the street address is wrong, or there are other inaccuracies.

I just run ’em all through the shredder unopened (in this era of identity theft, one can’t just toss things in the round file any more).

Heaven only knows how many hundreds of these unwanted labels my shredder has chomped up — many of them printed in color on foil, often with photos of flowers, or cute little graphics of animals or Halloween pumpkins or Christmas wreaths.

And that’s only the beginning: there are the imprinted pens, calendars, imprinted notepads, note cards, rulers, tape measures, key chains, refrigerator magnets, ticky-tacky pins and plastic jewelry of one kind or another, stickers, bookmarks, occasionally a letter with a penny or a nickel showing through the address window, and endless other stuff that I don’t want.

Can’t shred all those things, so I’m forced to open the envelope, remove my name/address info and shred it. Everything else goes into the garbage.

It’s not that I’m anti-charity; I’ve made donations to any number that I felt good causes. Unfortunately, that only unleashes a torrent of additional mail, trying to wheedle further donations, and more labels and junk that I have to shred or throw away, further clogging the landfills.

What’s really galling about all this is (1) that these charities spend a good chunk of the money I’ve given them buying more useless junk to mail to me, and (2) that they clog up the postal system with tons of mail that you and I subsidize through their heavily discounted mailing rates.

Worse, when I make a donation to Charity ABC, they then turn around and sell my name to Charity XYZ and others, so I am bombarded with even more mail, imploring me to contribute to the Aid for Orphaned Armadillos Fund or the Society for the Preservation of Edsels.

More than 10 years ago, a close friend died, and the family requested memorials to a specific local charity. I sent a donation, and for the next five years not a week passed that I didn’t get one or more appeal letters from the organization, though I wrote them several times and asked that they remove my name from their list. Finally, they did, but I’ll wager that in the interim they had spent all of my donation, or more, sending mailings I didn’t want.

I’ve asked other charities to remove my name from their list or to only send an annual solicitation. They don’t.

So, I have resolved that henceforth I will not abet their mass mailing addiction, and will contribute only to those charities that don’t waste the money I give them by inundating me with unwanted junk.

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TAGS: Agenda
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