Saturday, November 28, 2009

War On Black Friday

I simply do not understand the media’s fascination with the whole "Black Friday” storyline. Local TV stations even reported on how many “Black Friday” ads were stuffed inside The Tennessean. To me that just means I have to throw more of the paper in the recycling bin before bringing it inside.

I cannot fathom why anyone would want to head to a shopping mall on the one day of the year you are absolutely assured of having a horrible time finding a parking space, getting into stores and restaurants, and basically enjoying the shopping experience.

I just don’t get the whole “shopping maul” mentality that surrounds these holidays. Why would you subject yourself to getting trampled at the Toys R Us? Who are these people who wait in line 20-something hours at the Best Buy?
At the Best Buy, Hal Whiting from Bolton was the first person in line. Whiting claimed his spot early, getting in line at 10:15 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.

Though Whiting has never waited in line on Black Friday before, he said the deals were too good this year to pass up and believes his early arrival could save $800 dollars from this year's Black Friday deals.

Dude, that’s just crazy. Did you even get to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family? Pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie? Experience a little community, a little family, a little humanity? Or did you squander the entire point of Thanksgiving to save $800 on stuff?

We’ve been “shopping” for charitable donations in our family over the past few years. It’s a lot more fun and a lot more rewarding and a lot less hassle. I already have too many sweaters that don’t fit, household stuff I don’t need, gift cards I forget to use. At our advanced age, we’d rather help someone else at Christmas.

One of my favorite charities is the Modest Needs Foundation. You donate money to create “points” and then search their data base of “needs” to allocate your points. Many of the applicants are people in your own community: a family who lost a job and can’t pay the rent, someone who lost a house in a fire, even a non-profit wanting to develop a website. The needs are vetted by the organization’s Client Advocacy Specialists, ensuring it isn’t a scam, and they have a great data base you can search to find those needing help by locality, by cause, or by type of applicant (individual, social worker or non-profit).

There are plenty of other awesome organizations out there offering “gift giving” via charitable donations. I hope everyone considers giving a gift that matters this year. There are a lot of people who need help in this economy. Maybe instead of trampling each other to death at the Toys R Us we should consider a new kind of giving this holiday.

My list of favorite charitable giving sites:

Modest Needs Foundation

• Heifer Foundation

Seva Foundation

World Wildlife Fund Adoptions