I am a member of the Yahoo! Motherboard, which is a group of about 40 mom bloggers across the U.S. (even though my main blog - this one - isn't about my kids or parenting). It is a wonderful group of women, and we had a chance to meet this summer at Yahoo!'s headquarters in Palo Alto. The women at Yahoo! who run the Motherboard are equally wonderful, and are always coming up with interesting ways to engage us and get us talking - online - about issues and topics that are important to Yahoo! and the group.
This holiday, the members of the Motherboard were invited to participate in a unique program called Ripples of Kindness. Yahoo! sent each of us $100 to do something good with. People who received the money did all kinds of things - providing food for elderly neighbors or families having a tough time, buying toys for people waiting in line at Toys 'R' Us, treating an entire classroom of children to tickets to a play, leaving gift cards for waiters and support staff, paying for a line of people in the drive through, or donating to help needy kids enjoy Christmas.
I got my $100 a week ago, and spent several days trying to decide what to do with it. I have sent care packages to soldiers in Afghanistan before, so I considered using it for a few packages. I thought about taking it to the nearest animal shelter. I talked to my kids about it, and they had some great ideas too. But I am somewhat shy about approaching strangers, and the thought of openly paying for someone's purchases at a store or giving money to them directly made me uncomfortable.
In the end, here is how I spent it.
First, I went to Borders and learned that they provide books to kids at Children's Hospital. Now that's a cause close to my heart - I know firsthand the wonderful escape that reading provides, and can only imagine the pleasure that a good book might bring to a kid who is too sick to leave a hospital room. So I bought 10 A to Z Mystery books and donated them to the store. (The store gave me stickers to put in the books to say who donated them, so they all say "From Yahoo.com".)
With the remaining $50, I crossed the street to T.J. Maxx, where I went straight to the layaway section. I asked the man at the desk to apply $25 each to two random people's layaway accounts, so the next time they come in, they will discover that they owe $25 less on their accounts. This was an anonymous donation, which I am more comfortable with.
I loved participating in this program. I loved hearing about what the other Motherboard members came up with, and hearing about the reactions from the recipients of their donations. Yahoo! has a whole site dedicated to people (beyond the Motherboard) sharing their own ripples of kindness this year. It's addictive! Check it out.
Thank you, Yahoo!, for letting me be part of this wonderful group and for your generosity this year.
Happy holidays, everyone!