I wanted to give everyone an update on the fundraiser we did for Violet Booth a couple of months back. Sorry this took me a while, but for once it wasn't entirely due to my procrastinating (only a little bit). So here's the skinny:
After sending out the Twitarded Sparkle-Peen Signal, we got a flurry of responses and offers to help make Violet's 85th birthday one to remember. We raised about $300, and I had two people mail me things to send to her - Holly sent an amazing assortment of absolutely gorgeous hand-made cards, and Kat (who clearly knows a thing or two about extreme couponing and is invited to do a guest tutorial any time) sent a huuuge box of all sorts of things - soap, Chapstick, toothpaste, Advil, tasty treats & snacks, coupons, stamps, razors, cat food, shampoo, lotion...I wish I had thought to take a picture before I boxed everything up because the assortment made me wish I used coupons with similar expertise (I'm open to tips & tricks in the comments, people!).
My original plan was to take the funds we'd raised and use them to purchase an assortment gift cards or other things for Violet. I considered a floral arrangement for her birthday - it seemed like a great idea in theory - but let's face it: flowers are expensive and while they might make you smile for a few days before they start falling apart, they are pretty frivolous. And did I mention expensive??? Anyway, I wasn't sure exactly how so spend the money, so I decided the best thing to do would be to simply ask Violet what she needed or wanted. Simple, right? So I send a letter off to her a couple of weeks before her birthday...and then I waited. And waited. And waited... The day of her actual birthday came and went; I convinced myself it didn't matter. It's possible I may have checked the obituaries...obsessively (hey - she's an 85-year-old woman with a heart condition and I'm a realist).
At some point, I decided that it didn't matter if I heard back from her. That giving presents isn't about being thanked for getting it just right or being thanked at all, really--it's about the thought you put into trying to make someone happy. With that in mind, I decided to share the wealth and send a care-package to another person I'd read about at the same time I read about Violet - another person who we might be able to really help with a small present.
Dotty Morgan [not quite her real name] lives alone in a one-room house, and uses a wheelchair. She is only 64 years old. The aid programs in Maine's Washington County (where Dotty and Violet both live) defines anyone over 60 as elderly. Many residents have held seasonal, manual-labor jobs and are not in good health.
A little bit of what I'd read about Dotty:
The disabled [in Washington County], and there are many, may have it hardest.
Dotty Morgan has a history of two bad marriages, a bone-crushing auto accident and poor health, and looks and feels older than [her true age]. With osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes and obesity, she spends most of the day in a wheelchair and uses a combination of a gripper, a broom and a cane to make her bed or hang her laundry.
Come winter, she hangs a blanket over the front door of her little red wooden house, where she has lived alone the last 10 years and which sits on concrete blocks with no foundation. She turns the heat off at night to save fuel.
Like many, she keeps a police scanner on as a diversion and, unable to afford cable, she watches the same videos over and over — her favorite is “On Golden Pond.”
“I wish for bedtime to come,” she said. “The days are so long.”
Easing down a ramp to her mailbox is a perilous 15-minute ordeal. Still, she said, “I wait for Fridays.”
“That’s junk-mail day, and I read all the ads. That’s my best day.”
She added, “There’s always older people out there who have it harder.”
I divvied up the cards and goodies I'd been sent plus what I'd bought (magazines, stationary, stamps, cat toys, and other assorted tchotchkes), triple-checked to make sure I wasn't sending candy to a diabetic person, wrote out a check for $200 to Violet and one for $100 to Dotty, and wrapped the whole shebang of mixed goodies up like a puzzle into flat-rate Priority Mail boxes (no weight limit - woo hoo!).
A couple of weeks later, I heard back from Dotty -
Dear Snarkier Than You,
Hi! I wanted to tell you I appreciated all you & your friends did. It was like an early Christmas on a day I needed some cheering up! Please excuse my spelling & the writing, I'm a little worse for wear at times. I guess I get a brain cramp at times. Ha-ha!
The cards your friends makes are very pretty. They're too pretty to send out. The extra money you send was appreciated but times are so tough at times you shouldn't of done it. Today we're getting rain. So it will be a day to putty around some and to take a nap. I'm good at that Ha! Ha! The circulars [magazines] you sent will come in handy today. To see what others are doing and I'm not.
Yesterday I transplanted a tomato plant in a bigger pot. It was going wild. It had got so it reached the top of my window from the table, now it should do better. In the past I had potatoes but I picked them early. Call them Dotty potatoes - just my size . Hee Hee!
Again I want to tell you and your friends thanks for your kindness. And for being you.
AFA [A Friend Always],
A week or two later, I opened the mailbox and was thrilled to see a letter from Violet!
Dear Snarkier Than You,
It was real nice to hear from you again. I think of you a lot and tell everyone how nice you are and the best friend I ever had.
We are all feeling pretty good now. My pacemaker is working good so far, after the operation I had the gout & shingles but those are all gone, thank God.
My two cats are fine - they are 8 years old - Mittens and midget. Mittens still plays like a kitten. The birds are fine. They are seven now. Still perky and healthy. Thanks a million for the nice gifts. I could use everything. And thank your friends also. I'm sorry I haven't answered before but I have been on vacation, and just got home yesterday. My daughter came down [up!] from Portland and took me to her house for two weeks. I had a nice time with her. She is my oldest child - 64 yrs old. She was born on my mother's birthday May 3. So I enjoyed my visit.
It is raining here today. We have had a lot of rain this month. How is the summer there?
This economy is bad, prices are high on everything here, and low wages. I have a new great grandson, and one on the way. My grandson and his wife are expecting, and my other grandson has a baby boy named Conran. I haven't seen the baby yet - he is 2 months old now. I adopted both [my "grandsons"] - they were 12 and 9. Their mother lives with an abusive husband so the state took them from her. They are 29 and 23 now. Good boys and now men who don't drink or smoke and are good to their wives, so I guess I did a good job with them, ha-ha.
Well dear I guess I'll close now, it's almost mail time.
P.S. Thanks again to you and your friends for the wonderful gifts, stamps, and cards. I really appreciate everything. Hope to hear from you soon.
Love to all,
Some people might read this blog and think we're a vacuous waste of time. Those of us who stick around know that's not true (well, not all the time). We know that sometimes everyone deserves - and needs! - to take a break from their hectic stressful life and read softcore porn-y fanfic or wax poetic about a celebrity crush. But this? Honestly? Everyone who donated, everyone who gave even a dollar or sent gifts - we made these ladies smile. And that's worth tenfold. At least. Honestly, you really can't place a monetary value on that... So, a HUGE thank you to everyone who participated, left comment, or otherwise was encouraging and helped make this happen. Big hugs & sloppy kisses to you! And if you want to get on board in the future, email Twitarded@gmail.com and we'll be happy to arrange to accept letters and gifts so that we can keep making Viola and Dotty and others smile in the future.