Stonyfield sent me a gift card for $50 and allowed me to pass it along to a cause my family supported. I have a standing policy that whenever my children donate money to a cause they believe in, I make a matching contribution. Doing this allows them to see their dollars go further, shows them that I support their giving, and hopefully encourages them to find other things to believe in.
We sat around one evening at dinner and talked about the many activities in the area that we could do to help others. In the past, we've adopted families through Arlington County's Secret Santa program.
I also donate annually to a program in Alexandria that provides gifts to foster children aging out of the foster program. I answered an ad on a listserv I belong on a few years ago, and now get direct requests. The charity is Fund for Alexandria's Child.
And the charity closest to my heart is Miriam's Kitchen - a place I volunteered at for about 20 years. I still donate to them monthly.
Helen recently did a few lemonade and jewelry sales with a friend as well as giving some of her own money (and my match) to donate to Animal Welfare League of Arlington. She was thrilled to bring her donation a few weeks ago, in part because it meant she could play with and see the cats and dogs at the shelter. It was a fun way to spend an hour.
And finally, Helen fleeced us out of every piece of spare change in the house (including the coins I find in the laundry, which I consider my tips) in order to support Shareplay, a charity founded by one of her school teachers.
Connor's Boy Scout troop collects food for the Arlington Food Assistance Center and apparently that action sunk in - because as we were naming all of these other charities, he piped in with AFAC.
We talked about whether we wanted to donate to something new for our family or something we already support, whether we wanted to do something for people or animals, and where we wanted the charity to be (international, national, local). Once we decided we wanted to do something for families in Arlington, we talked about the different ideas we laid out, and landed on AFAC.
We started with the $50 gift card from Stonyfield. To that, I added $20. Then Helen said she'd like to contribute $2 of her own and Connor wanted to contribute $5 of his own. We added that together, and with my matching contributions for their donations - we discovered we had put together $84. Helen then upped her amount to $5 - giving us $90 to donate to AFAC.
We went on their website and chose items from their food list that we'd like to donate.
It was super easy, and we had an email thanking us almost instantly.
"Thank you for your donation to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). If you have questions about your donation, please contact our Development office at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (703) 845-8486."
Thank you, Stonyfield. You might have started our new holiday tradition that includes the kids in the donating end of giving!