I made the mistake of answering the plea for help from an endangered wolf. The letter said, “Help me! Please make a donation today and save my family!” The picture was heartbreaking. I’ve always wanted to own a wolf, or at least a dog that resembled one. I sent five dollars.
The next week, my mailbox was filled with a dozen pleas for help from organizations trying to save the ocean, state parks, trees, elephants and other wild animals, homeless dogs and cats, sea turtles, dolphins and whales – plus one request from an Indian School in South Dakota. The school plea was enclosed with a dream catcher, hand-made by Indian children in need of shoes, food and warm blankets.
I was overwhelmed. I wanted to help everyone. Their causes all seemed legitimate and urgent, and who doesn’t need a dream catcher? I sent five dollars to each one and felt really good about myself, confident I was making a real difference in the world. I joined the World Wildlife Fund so I could get the golf umbrella with penguins on it. I also joined the Ocean Conservancy Fund to get the insulated tote bag. Who doesn’t need one of those?
The next week my mailbox was filled with two-dozen pleas for help. Now the envelopes contained note cards and personalized address labels. Hey, wait a minute! I didn’t ask for this stuff. What am I supposed to do with it? OK, the note cards were pretty, but shouldn’t these organizations in need of money stop wasting money on note cards and labels? The labels with puppies and kittens were kinda cute. I sent five dollars.
My husband began noticing all the five-dollar checks being written. He gently reminded me that we’d soon have three kids in college, and if we weren’t careful, we’d be sending out our own pleas for help.
The next week I got a letter from the World Wildlife Fund and the Ocean Conservancy Fund telling me it was time to renew my membership. Hey! I joined just two weeks ago! How long does the membership last? Ten minutes?
I also received another dream catcher, more note cards, a purse-size calendar and some stickers. I reduced my donations to three dollars each and hid the checkbook.
After a couple months, I had accumulated a dream catcher for every room in my house, a drawerful of return address labels, note card and note pads, two umbrellas and three insulated tote bags.
The reality of the madness finally hit me when the Indian School must have realized I had enough dream catchers to fill a sleep clinic, so they changed their game. They sent me one pair of black, low-cut athletic socks. Huh? I still don’t get it. How do athletic socks have anything to do with Indian children needing blankets? I gave the socks to Goodwill and tossed the return envelope in the garbage. I was done.
Don’t get me wrong. I still read the pleas for help, and sympathize with all those good causes, but I don’t send many donations anymore, unless of course you get a free fleece blanket decorated with dolphins. Who doesn’t need one of those?