Blogmas 2014 - Day 2 What Christmas Means to Me

Hmmm... What does Christmas mean to me?  Well, Christmas means a lot.  Christmas to me is celebrating the birth of Jesus. It's so many other things as well.  I get so into Christmas it's not even funny.  

It's also about family!  I just love spending the time with the family, and not just my husband and kids or even my siblings and parents or in-laws.  It's the extended family.  Aunts and uncles and cousins, etc.  I don't get to do a lot with my side of the family, which really does make me sad, especially when I look back and remember all the good times we had together.  

I love the giving!  And not just to receive, although I do love a good gift, especially really thoughtful ones.  I love, love, love giving to others!  I'm a sucker for charity honestly.  If someone says "would you like to give a dollar to ...?" I totally do it, every time.  Bell ringers, pan handlers, you name it, I donate.  My kids are very spoiled and have never gone without. There have been times that we couldn't afford all the nice clothes, coats, toys, etc, and other people have helped us, so I always donate old gently worn clothes, coats, shoes, toys, home accessories, you name it to Planet Aid or Catholic Charities to give to those in need.  I like to think that the toys my kids no longer play with that has minimal damage can make some other child's Christmas really special.

The cooking!  I know, it sounds so silly, but the amazing smells and tastes that come from the kitchen at Christmas time.  The soups and stews, the crockpot cooking, but mostly, the cookies and candies! Yum, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  I can't wait to get started.  I will wait though... a little longer, because if I do it now, I'll eat everything by myself, and my waistline can't handle that.

Well, that's what Christmas means to me.  What does it mean to you?


WD Larsen said…
Recycling is great, and Americans need to do even more of it. But the charity world is rife with scams. Having a child-like trust of anyone asking for a “donation” is a great way to potentially get ripped off and help really bad people. Surely you don’t want to do that, right? Sadly, these days, one needs to research before donating.

As for Planet Aid, one of the used clothing collectors you mentioned, I have serious concerns, after researching the company for several years. (Sorry in advance for the length):

1) For starters, the Chicago-based CharityWatch gave Planet Aid an “F” grade after analyzing its 2012 tax form and audited financial statements, determining that Planet Aid spent only 27% of its expenses on programs.

Google search:

CharityWatch Debunks Planet Aid's Recycling Program

2) A charitable spending ratio of 27% is certainly too low, but the actual figure may be far lower than even that. In 2009, WTTG News in Washington DC examined Planet Aid’s then most recent tax records and noticed many of the overseas charities Planet Aid claims to support have the same address. A list of South African charities was shown in example. But the South African Embassy told WTTG those groups are not registered charities.

WTTG’s investigation found that all of the charities listed in Planet Aid’s most recent tax return are controlled by the same parent organization — a group called International Humana People to People Movement, which, according to its own web-site, also controls Planet Aid. (Humana People to People is not affiliated with the American health insurer called Humana.)

3) Worse, Danish prosecutors link Humana People to People and Planet Aid to an alleged cult called the Tvind Teachers Group. Five leaders of this group are Interpol fugitives wanted in their native Denmark in connection with a multimillion-dollar tax-fraud and embezzlement scheme.

4) Tvind is reportedly a political cult based on the ideology of Maoist-type communism. Tvind’s leadership is also said to be atheistic, with no hope of an afterlife. In addition, several self-described humanitarian programs run by Tvind-linked organizations have been criticized by former volunteers as being ineffective, culturally insensitive, environmentally unsustainable and even abusive toward volunteers.

Tvind’s “schools” around the world have elicited numerous complaints from former students, with allegations ranging from low standards of “training,” to dire living conditions, unreasonable work hours, bullying and even a “cult-like” atmosphere. Many of these volunteers also claim they were required to beg for money on American or European city streets and were exploited as free labor benefiting Tvind-owned businesses.

Most disturbingly, several young Tvind members or participants have over the years been raped, injured or killed during poorly-planned land and sea excursions. In many of these cases, the victims’ families directly blamed senior Tvind officials for knowingly endangering the young people. Tvind, however, has never admitted any wrongdoing. Nice folks. (Not!)

Google search:

“Kindness into Cash” - exposé of used clothes company Planet Aid - pt. 1

[For more info, click 'Show more' in the description box under the video.]

5) Planet Aid purports to have an “environmental cause” by diverting clothes and other textiles from landfills. But the global trade in used clothing is reportedly worth billions annually. So if Planet Aid didn’t collect this valuable commodity, most of it would surely be collected by other groups.

Besides, how seriously can we take Planet Aid’s "green" rhetoric when images culled from many news stories show the company’s bins with donations and trash piled up next to them? In some shots, bins appear to be packed full while items strewn nearby seem to have been accumulating for some time:

Again, please research before you donate. After all, do you want to help mean, atheistic communists? :-)
Liz said…
Thank you for that information. I will definitely look into it.

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