Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's the Holidays and I have so much stuff.

Or, alternatively, I want to give some other people some stuff!

If that sounds like you, check out these opportunities below!  I know a lot of you already donate time, talents, money, etc, but if you're looking for new ways to give, check out these!  I'll post more as I find out through December.

Inglis House
Inglis House is a home for those who are wheelchair bound.  They do there best to help all residents reach a level of independence that they want.  I've seen people who can only move their heads navigate computers with ease using adaptive equipment.  I've learned to weave alongside residents.  I've listened to stories residents have written.  It's an incredible place.


Inglis is looking for people to donate items for their holiday gifts which they evaluate and then personalize for each resident.  The list is kind of long, so check out the bottom of this page for the list!


If you wonder where food banks get there stuff, look no further than Philabundance, a food bank serving 9 counties in southeaster PA and New Jersey.  They do some great work, but they need help getting Thanksgiving meals to people!

Check out this site if you'd like to help donate to give a Thanksgiving meal to someone: Click here!


It's getting down to the wire on this one, but if you've got cash and you want a MANNA Pie (it helps feed a family!) make sure you get down there soon!

 Forgot to order your Pie?   
Pick one up at MANNA's Cash & Carry Pickup Sites 
11am - 2pm 
  • The Bellevue Hotel, Broad & Walnut Streets, Philadelphia 
  • 30th Street Station, 30th & Market Streets, Philadelphia 
  • MANNA, 2323 Ranstead Street, Philadelphia 
Traditional Apple | Holiday Pumpkin | Southern Pecan  
Questions?  Call MANNA at (215) 496-2662 or email info@mannapa.org 


That's right, CSM fundraises as well.  If you'd like to donate to CSM, click HERE for my personal fundraising page.  I'll have a new goal set next year, but it's not too early to get a head start on it!

Thanks to everyone for checking out this info, and for considering helping out!

Have a great Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays all year.



Inglis' Wish List:

Shopping Ideas to Help
Bring the Holidays to
Inglis House Residents!
Winter scarves, hats & gloves
Decorative scarves
Fabric headbands
Socks & slipper socks
Costume jewelry
Women’s purses
Waist packs (men’s & women’s)
Sweat pants
Elastic waist skirts
Winter fleece vests and hoodies
Zipper-front sweatshirts
Long sleeve shirts
Lip balm
Body wash (men’s and women’s)
Perfume/Cologne/After Shave
Denture cream
Toiletries (Continued)
Battery operated toothbrushes
Shampoo & conditioner
Body Lotion
Other Ideas
AA and AAA batteries
Decorative wall calendars
DVDs and CDs
Fleece blankets
Target and Walmart gift cards
Greeting cards
Large wall clocks
Writing supplies (note cards, paper, large size pens,
fine tip markers, postage stamps)
Picture frames
Small photo albums
Small refrigerator
Wheelchair bags (canvas and fabric)
Wireless headphones
Wrapping paper
Please drop off unwrapped donations in the Volunteer Office (first floor, main lobby)
by Thursday, December 13, 2012. Be sure to sign the holiday card while you’re there!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Be a Blessing!

If you've ever worked with me at CSM, you know this phrase because I've yelled it at you as you leave for a day of service, and you've probably rolled your eyes and (hopefully) chuckled a little bit at me.  I like to have  fun and make people laugh, but I also mean what I say, even if I'm laughing.

Be a blessing!

With Thanksgiving approaching I've been thinking about what it means to be on the reciprocating end of thanks.  We're trained to say thank you when we grow up, we write thank you cards, and we cook turkeys in honor of the Indians.  And we know that it's right and good to be thankful towards people because we also know how good it feels when someone says thanks to us- and how bad it feels when they don't.

I guess I've been thinking about this because a lot of life is really thankless.  Nobody thanks me for making my bed, eating food, and generally taking care of myself.  That would actually be kind of weird.  But now that I think about it, how cool would it be if the people that really knew you and loved you said to you, "I'm glad you got out of bed today and brushed your teeth.  Thank you for taking care of yourself so that we can spend time together."  I'd feel really loved by that friend.

Or... no well it's still kind of weird.

I guess it's just that thanks have become so expected and routine in some areas (thank you cards after certain occasions, or a "Thanks!" after you pass the salt) that they don't really mean much anymore.  And any time you feel like you should say "Thanks!" outside of those social norms, you're really putting yourself out there.  Like, "Oh, I really liked what they did, but they know that already so I don't need to say anything."  Or, "What if they think I'm weird for liking this or just overly joyous or even straight up lying?"

Am I the only one who thinks these things sometimes?

Anyway, let's get to the stories.  Last week all of the year-long Apprentices came to Philly to be trained and I had the privilege of hosting them.  I also had the privilege of laughing my head off with them over the amount of food one* can consume at a diner.  I got to share with them some of what I learned last year, and I got to show them around this awesome city.  But the best was at the end of the week, I got this hand-made card with everyone's signature on it thanking me for my help.  I didn't do this for the recognition, I did it because Apprentices are awesome people and I wanted to meet them and help them get off to a good start. But man, I sure felt appreciated.

Another example.  I have just returned from gorging myself on the most excellent pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner I have ever eaten in my life.  This is half of it:

There were EIGHT kinds of meat.  EIGHT.  And, sweet potatoes, roasted potatoes, stuffing, mac n cheese, rice, collard greens, cabbage, punch, pasta salad, potato salad.... I'm getting full just typing this all out.

Here's the thing.  This awesome family, for four years now, has hosted this party and invites, from what I gather, like, everyone they know.  Because at this time of year, why not just throw together an entire extra day of food for everyone you know?**  But the thing is, everyone felt so appreciated.  It was laid out beautifully, it was delicious, and it was fun.

I've got a lot to learn about really appreciating those around me, thanking them for being in my life, and saying to them directly, Thank you for being in my life, you are meaningful to me.  Like I said, it's a big risk.  I mean, what if you have this party but no one comes?***  Or what if you send a card but the person doesn't write an awkward blog post about it?  Or if you say those words above, but they get all freaked out?  We even all have different ideas of what it means to be appreciated.  How can we even be a blessing if we don't know what that's supposed to look like?

What I try to remind myself of though, is that since the risk is so deep, the payoff is so deep too.  Because as I left that cozy house, I felt full, but man, I really felt loved.

BONUS!  SIDE NOTE!  Or, bottom note, as it were.  Anyway, a lot of you know about this, but this can be a tool that can potentially help you understand more tangibly how you love.  It's called love languages, and the quizzes are free, so, even cooler.  Just click on your category!  Or, the wrong one and see if you can win.****


**Because it's a lot of work.

***Because everyone can casually resist this meal.

****Just kidding, loving is not about winning.  Except when it is.  Which is never.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


That's the new word I've coined to mean "that gratitude feeling that comes after a giant storm named Sandy".

I don't know if I need to explain further with what I mean by that, because I think everyone's felt some level of Sandytude these past few days, but here's some examples from my life:

1.  Glad the tree outside my apartment stayed that way, especially when that one branch decided to high-five my window.  Repeatedly.  My window's such a sport.

2.  Electricity.

3.  Friends in my building with whom I can share a delicious baked treat- acorn squash smiles!

3.  St. John's Hospice.  This one is kind of roundabout.  But the Coast Guard had originally signed up to volunteer to serve lunch at St. Johns (they offer a free hot and super delicious lunch to any man that shows up) but seeing as they're otherwise engaged these days, St John's needed some quick backup.  So my friends and family pulled through and we got to share an hour with smiles and home baked casseroles.

It was a little light today, serving only 220 meals where they normally do anywhere from 300-500 meals in an hour.  The volunteer coordinator came over to speak with me and said, "Well, it's the first of the month- checks come in today, so people are out splurging."

"Hopefully buying some food, too!" I replied.

"Well," he said, "we don't judge."

And at first I admit I felt a little reprimanded, but now that I think about it, I get it a little more.  Say you serve here for years and you see some of the same guys come through every day, month after month, every year.  How do you, knowing why you don't see them at the beginning of the month, and why you do at the end of the month when funds get shorter, still serve them a hot meal and greet them with a smile?

We don't judge.

That's such a hard thing to live by, because it's so easy for me to say, just save some of the money and then you have enough to eat or you can save and get interest and maybe find an apartment...  But the truth is, each of those guys that walks through the door has their own complete and incredible story that I will never understand.  And the truth is, I'm leaving after I'm done serving.  I have a place to work and a place to sleep and there's no tree through my window.

And after all, who am I to judge?  I make terrible decisions all the time.  Does that mean I don't deserve to eat?  Well I don't think so, but I'm a little biased toward myself.

"I mean, these guys are hungry," my Mom said.  Yeah, I mean, forget how complicated it can all get- they are hungry!  And St. John's verse is Matthew 25:31-46 and they conjure the image of Christ of the breadline.  When you do this to the least of these, you do this to me....

The Christ of the Breadlines

I mean it's crazy, right?  Jesus?  The Son of God?  He cares SO MUCH about those in need that he says they are me, if you do this for them, you are doing it for me.  It's like he just got in the line for the soup kitchen himself- but didn't let anyone know that he was there.  He didn't judge the smelly guys who couldn't shower yet today (this week) that stood around him.  He didn't tell them to get jobs first and then come for lunch.  He just got in line himself.

So I'm thankful for the opportunity to serve there today and be reminded of how incredibly beautiful, how utterly freeing, and how awfully difficult it is to live a judging-free life.

A more full picture of this is that we're all in need, and we can't judge whose needs are more right than others.  If the tree did go through my window, no one would tell me I was lazy or worthless because I let a tree fall through my window in a hurricane.  They'd feel bad for me and try to help me get it fixed.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I need you, and you need me, and we all need each other.  And if I can take one hour to hand a guy a tray with a plate on it and smile so he feels welcome, then great.  And if someone can take one moment to say to me, "You did a great job with x", then great.  And if we could all take one moment to try to see Jesus- see the worth- in someone- anyone! everyone!- else, then isn't that worth it?

I know it sounds pay-it-forward-y but I'm just saying, you don't have to look real far to find someone where you can make a difference.

And that's Sandytude.  Taking a step back from every day life to get stuck in our respective residences for one day and remember what it is that's really worth living for.  For everyone it's slightly different, but for me, it's really seeing someone, and knowing how to make even one person's day just a little bit better.  I'm glad I got stuck inside for a day- I really needed the reminder.

What is it for you?  What's you're Sandytude?

If you want to learn more about St. John's Hospice or get more involved, check it out here!  They need daily lunch volunteers and they need lots of people to bake those delicious casseroles they serve.  They even give you the recipes.  Thanks!