What I did:
This week I solicited donations from businesses, friends, and strangers for NCompass’ 4th Annual Christmas Festival for the Homeless.
I am thrilled that Kaleo, our church, volunteered to take on the donation piece of the NCompass’ Festival. Helping the homeless find clothes at last year’s event was my first experience volunteering with something so out of my comfort zone. In fact, the immense feeling of gratitude I had afterwards led me to creating this whole 2012 blog experiment. (Wow. Has it really been 37 weeks?)
Last Sunday, I met with the rest of the Festival planning committee and for the first time, became aware of the sheer amount of work involved in soliciting donations to make this “party” a success.
Here’s a tidbit about me: I hate asking people to give money for anything. The worst part of my kids being in Girl Scouts was the cookie selling. I realize I wasn’t doing the selling (oh, who are we kidding?), but I still don’t like asking people to buy things.
To say that asking others for anything puts me out of my comfort zone is an understatement.
It terrifies me.
It makes me sick to my stomach.
It gives me a headache.
The sheer thought of a rejection makes me want to run the other way.
Logically, I know this is ludicrous. People aren’t rejecting ME, they are rejecting the idea of donating. In my head, I get it. In every other part of my body, I take it personally.
The first part of this week I spent hours on my computer. I posted a blog entry listing festival needs. I sent a letter to any friend I could think of that may be able to help with donations or corporate sponsorships.
But non-personal communication could be the only task for so long. The inevitable hung in the air, making it hard to take a breath.
I had to enter local businesses to make personal requests. I psyched myself up for the day. I took three Advil for the onset of a migraine I got just anticipating talking to strangers about money.
First stop was my neighborhood Fred Meyer. I grabbed one of my printed letterhead requests and stood at the customer service desk.
My voice meek, I asked the employee behind the counter, “May I please speak to a manager about non-profit donations?”
Kindly he responded, “The manager who takes care of that isn’t working today. Our policy is that you fill out this form, attach your request on letterhead, and we’ll get back to you.”
I exhaled. Ok. I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. And I can fill out forms with the best of ‘em.
I went to more neighborhood businesses and each had the same reply. “Fill out this form.”
The day I expected to be my personal hell turned out to be a day of filling out forms. So much for all of that wasted anxiety.
Luckily, my efforts did not leave me empty handed.
Trader Joe’s employees looked for the requisite form until one clerk learned I just wanted reusable grocery bags, not food. “Oh, here,” she said casually, “have a box of 300.”
If anyone shops at the Trader Joe's Hillsboro, please tell Klea she did a nice thing.
As word began to spread, more friends asked how they can help. One good friend in my old Washington neighborhood offered to host a catalogue party for her Stella-Dot jewelry business with all proceeds benefiting the festival. Now supporters can look good AND feed hungry people! (Details to follow.)
I’ve determined that bugging people (husband excluded) for things is not my Spiritual Gift. That doesn’t mean, though, that I WON’T do something because it’s uncomfortable. I just need to work on doing these things without complaining about it. Is complaining a Spiritual Gift?
The motivation that kept me going this week was believing that because of my asking, a homeless man may have a new sleeping bag to keep him warm this winter.
A homeless family will have a holiday meal, complete with mashed potatoes and gravy.
A homeless woman that receives a coat, gloves, and scarf may survive one more winter living outside.
How To Help:
Read this blog post to see if any of these needs speak to your heart. The following video filmed by KATU news 2 years ago will give you an overview of what the Christmas Festival is all about.