Enough with the charity calendars!

IMG_20160829_110205540[1]The pink invoice means my payment is late. But wait, it’s OPB, and I never promised to pay them anything. Second notice, my ass. And no, another decal or membership card is not going to make me pay up.

It’s just one of many ways non-profits and charities try to get my money. Most of them send gifts, such as:

  • Calendars, so many calendars, with pictures of birds, dogs, Oregon scenery, flowers, famous paintings, and random photographs. Big calendars, little calendars, tiny ones for my purse. Nobody needs 20 calendars, and I’d like to choose my own.
  • Mailing labels, millions of them, never quite as I would like my name and address to be printed but often with cute pictures so I use them.
  • Notepads. I don’t need any more notepads, and I feel guilty throwing unused paper away. Stop!
  • Decals I have no use for. Since the crash of 2015, my car is decal-free, and the filing cabinet on which I stick such things is full.
  • Greeting cards. I have more than anyone could ever use. These days, I send more animated e-cards than the paper kind. I keep promising myself I’ll start sending notes and cards, but it’s not happening.
  • Datebooks, calculators, flashlights, magnifying glasses, key fobs and pens, all from the National Federation of the Blind. Most of these are great, but now I have multiples which I can neither sell nor give away.

Although the law says we are under no obligation to fill the envelope that is always enclosed, the charities make it look like we owe them. They send notices that say, “Did you receive your calendar? Please respond with payment,” or “We still have not received payment for the greeting cards we sent you.” They’re counting on guilt to make us pay up, and sometimes it works.

Oh, and then there are pleas to hurry up and send a payment before this campaign or this matching opportunity ends. The Alzheimer’s and cancer people use this tactic a lot. The more they push, the less likely I am to give.

I do send checks sometimes if the “gift” is particularly enjoyable or I’m feeling generous. It’s not that I don’t care. But I’d much rather they stop sending crap I don’t need and spend that money on their charities. How many blind people could the federation help with the money they spent sending out that cool light-up magnifier last month? Stop sending junk, especially non-recyclable junk that’s going to end up in the landfill.

I worry about people like my dad. He doesn’t always understand that he doesn’t have to pay for this stuff. Confused at why he’s getting a bill, he will send letters, make phone calls and even visit in person trying to figure out how he suddenly owes them money. He will lose sleep and possibly cash. People shouldn’t have to figure out what’s real and what’s not.

When I receive mail in my mailbox or my post office box, I hope for something real, a letter, good news, a book I ordered, but mostly what I get is charity mail. I am not a wealthy philanthropist. When we get down to the end of the month and I’m calculating whether or not I can afford groceries, I’m not paying for a puppy-dog calendar.

Maybe I should start my own charity, Poor Poets of America. (They always have “national” or “America” in the name.) I’ll send people poems with envelopes enclosed for payment. I’ll send membership cards and mailing labels with pictures of poets who committed suicide. Yeah. Want to join me? I can’t wait for the cash to start rolling in.

What kind of junk mail do you get? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Author: Sue Fagalde Lick

writer/musician California native, Oregon resident Author of Freelancing for Newspapers, Shoes Full of Sand, Azorean Dreams, Stories Grandma Never Told, and Childless by Marriage. I have published hundreds of articles, plus essays, fiction and poetry. I teach writing workshops and offer individual editing and mentoring. I'm also pretty good at singing and playing guitar and piano.

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