Tuesday Dec 22, 2009

'Tis the Season for Giving

This is the time of year that we all get pinged by charities hoping to talk us all into a last minute charitable (and in the US, tax-deductible) donation. Separating the wheat from the chaff is a challenge, but with sites like Charity Navigator, it's easier than ever before.

Then along came Jen Yates, of Cake Wrecks fame,  and she's doing the coolest thing: using her massive quantity of blog followers to do GOOD! For 14 days this month, Jen and her husband are selecting a charity to give at least $200 to and asking her minions\^H... followers to each give just a dollar to these same charities that she has prescreened for us. It is so inspiring to see how many wells for clean water will be available now, how many children will have meals, how many homes can be built, etc. just due to this super simple plan.  Jen's appeals appear at the end of each of her daily wreckports, and are neither preachy nor too pleading.

I've found myself giving a few dollars each day to each of these charities - and am so impressed at how quickly a lot of people just giving a bit can add up so fast! Jen's even made a "round-up" page if you want to catch up on the giving!

In addition to those charities, I've lent my support this season to Second Harvest Food Bank, The Family Giving Tree, Heifer International, West Valley Light Opera, Purdue University (Women in Science & Computer Science funds), and the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

It seems in this day and age, everyone needs a little bit more help to stay afloat. If you can, help out the Cake Wrecks charity drive - even a dollar or two adds up when enough people participate. Where are you giving this season?


Monday Nov 23, 2009

Amazingly Compassionate Sun Employees!

Last month, tragedy struck a member of the Sun family, a woman who is a member of my building's custodial staff.  She lost her son in a tragic manner and suddenly found herself in a position that no mother should be in: she had to bury her own child. He was only 23 years old.

It turns out that a burial plot, services and a coffin are not all cheap in the SF Bay Area, and this mother had no idea how she was going to make sure the last thing she did for her son was the right thing.  Where was she going to come up with $8500 for a basic state funeral?

This is where the inspirational Patricia Hill came in. Pat is a director here at Sun and has many tasks on her plate, but she's always had time for a quick chat with any member of the Sun family and always has time to help. When she found out that one of the other custodians was collecting donations to help, she sent out an announcement to all the Sun employees on this campus.

Word got around to other offices in the Bay Area and soon the rest of the world, and Pat found herself inundated with donations coming from as far away as Europe. Pat said people came to her office and gave her literally every piece of paper money they had in their wallet. Others made a trip to the ATM. I went up to her office one day hoping to find Pat, and instead found a FedEx envelope overflowing with cash. I stuffed my cash in and walked away - knowing that the money was safe.

All told, Sun employees collected over $12,000 for this mother. Enough for her to pay for the funeral services and grief counseling.

Nothing will ever replace this woman's son, but the work that Pat did, along with hundreds of other employees of Sun Microsystems, at least meant she didn't have to start out the grieving process with mountains of debt.

Thank you, Pat, for helping us all to do the right thing!

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Valerie's former weblog. The new one can be found at http://bubbva.blogspot.com/

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