April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

This is the time of year when charities are making their last-minute push for donations before the fiscal year ends.

I can’t even begin to describe my frustration with the amount of mail that my clients receive, especially my seniors who are vulnerable to the seductive photos of starving animals and disfigured children. That is not to say that I have no heart, I could not do this work without a huge heart. But let’s get real, how many charities can one person on a fixed income donate to? Where do they draw the line when the mail keeps coming with the sad photos of pain, starvation and sorrow that is being experienced all over the world?

Here is what I recommend – pick three charities, yes three, and if you can’t pick three, then pick five, no more ! And stop giving to the rest. The world will go on without your $18 donation. But add up $18 times twenty to thirty checks being written in a month and before you know it, you can’t afford to go out to lunch with friends or enjoy a show at The Papermill Playhouse. Sound selfish? Absolutely not.

There are so many ways to show acts of kindness, and it does not always come in the form of writing a check. Instead of putting pen to checkbook, try calling the local food bank and asking if they need help with the upcoming holiday season, perhaps serving food to families in need right in your neighborhood. Or call the local animal shelter and see if they need someone to provide some attention to cats and dogs while they await adoption. This may include changing kitty litter boxes or picking up after the puppies. It’s not glamorous work, but it’s meaningful and important (especially if you are an animal lover).

Doing volunteer work is a wonderful outlet for those who are no longer working but are well enough to get out and about. Most houses of worship have a volunteer “arm,” that helps congregants who need transportation to religious services or to doctors’ appointments. Or just visiting the sick in the hospital for those who have no families to visit with them in their time of need.

Back to the mail conundrum…I recently timed how long it took me to open and sort through about 50 pieces of mail that were requests for donations. This task was done as an experiment after I visited a client who had piles of requests for donations on her dining room table. She had no place to eat her dinner, but she was willing to share the table with the orphans and puppies while being overwhelmed at the volume of mail and the tough decisions that were going to be made because she could not afford to send every charity a check.

There were several envelopes that had a shiny nickel in the window to entice the recipient to open it. Behold, the envelope included a bonus – which came in a variety of items that no one needs or wants, and few will toss. This included holiday ornaments, gift wrap, greeting cards, magnetic calendars and pens that don’t work.

It’s December, the year flew by. Life is too precious, please don’t add any more stress than you already have. Pick three (or up to five) charities. Toss the rest   . Or send them a note back in their prepaid envelope asking to be removed from their mailing list. You will find that over time, the volume of incoming mail will be greatly reduced. Then get yourself out of the house and volunteer to hold someone’s hand at hospice, or read to children in an after school program. Time is the most valuable resource that we have, spend it wisely. And by the way it took me 35 minutes to sort through the pile of mail. I wish I had that 35 minutes back this evening.

From my home to yours, wishing you and your family a happy and healthy New Year.

Happy Organizing!

By Eileen Bergman


Eileen Bergman is a Professional Organizer, a proud member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Eileen is listed in the resource directory for the Hoarding Disorder Resource and Training Group. Eileen may be reached at 973 303 3236 or [email protected].

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