January 20, 2009

More Than Just A Good Hair Day

I was delighted to hear that some of you took the opportunity yesterday to do something giving and I really appreciated your comments. I had the day off from work in honor of the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, and while watching the midday news I was pleased to see that they focused on the national day of service and what people were doing for it. I had decided to do something new (for me) as my service to the community, and was inspired to choose it by a recent post from OHMommy at Classy Chaos Reviews.

Her post was interesting to me for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that it was a donation drive based on comments, much like mine. Her donation went to a local emergency shelter for women and their children who are affected by domestic violence. The review part of it was for the products that Suave had sent to her to compare to their more expensive counterparts. She "put Suavenomics to the test!" and I was sold; OHMommy knows from good personal care products. I'm totally trying their Humectant shampoo next time I need a new bottle. (Though I'm waiting for the free bottle coupon I signed up for to arrive in the mail -- one saves money where one can so one can splurge where one wants!)

But, beauty product talk aside, what grabbed my attention was that she had immediately packaged up the more expensive brands that Suave had sent (for comparison), in order to donate them to that women's shelter. I've never worked with a shelter before in any way, so I didn't have an awareness of that kind of need. Of course, I kind of mentally slapped myself in the head after thinking about it because it seemed obvious.

Then, last week I received an email that mentioned a service activity by a local Planned Parenthood center for the new President's national day of service. They held a "Giving Back the Basics: Toiletries and Essentials Drive" for local women's shelters, where they were looking for donations of exactly the kind of things OHMommy had given.

Serendipity, I tell you.

Over the course of the weekend, I picked up as many items as I could from the personal care side of the list of suggested donations they provided, (those at least I know and am aware of what's a good value and what's not; the baby stuff, not so much) then dropped them off at the collection site. It was heartening to see how much stuff they were sorting through and organizing inside.

After I'd bought all of my items, my mother said she wished she had thought to give me the coupons out of the Sunday newspaper insert because there were a lot of them for those kinds of products. I mentally slapped myself (again) and assured her there would be a next time when they could be used.

That's when I had an idea. There are always a lot of coupons for personal care and baby care items in those inserts, and I think most of us -- if we clip coupons at all -- use only a fraction of them. Sometimes they're real money-savers, but only if they're items you actually use or you know someone else who can use them! So I plan to pull all those coupons out of the paper, plus the ones I get online but can rarely use, and start buying items on that list (including the baby ones!) with them. This will serve both as a means of getting the most for the donation dollar and as a reminder to collect these items and drop them off periodically. I call that a win-win.