December 9, 2008

Charity By The Pound

After we'd managed to sneak away from the kids for a while on Saturday evening (don't worry - it's not like we left them unsupervised with piles of razor blades and loaded handguns) and gone out for my birthday dinner, we hit Starbucks. We were behind about 37 other lemmings when something occurred to me:

Me: We're really stupid.
Beth: Huh?
Me: We're just really stupid. People, I mean.
Beth: Why?
Me: Look at us. We're standing in line for the privilege of paying $5 for a gigantic and truly overpriced cup of coffee that, while good, isn't mind-blowingly orgasmic or anything.
Beth: You want to leave?
Me: Oh hell no.

Apparently the caloric value of the meal - to include a big honkin' piece of lemon meringue pie - wasn't enough because, after waiting in line for five minutes I ordered a venti white chocolate mocha which is kinda crack cocaine for suburban white people. Immediately after ordering and before I was told how much the second mortgage on my house needed to be so that I could may for my steaming cup of coffee, the barrista asked me an unexpected question - would you like to donate a pound of coffee for the soldiers in Iraq? I asked her to repeat herself because I'm 36 now and my hearing is apparently going. She did. And I said something like well, yeah, sure because how can you listen to that question and say you know what, I'm just really happy to be in this nice warm store buying a terribly overpriced drink before I go home to tuck my two kids into bed and enjoy the rest of the evening crapped out in front of my TV on my nice comfy couch where I don't have to wear a bullet proof vest or pack a machine gun so, honestly, while the absolute least thing I could do would be to kick in an extra $11 for coffee so some guys busting their asses for me and my family in a desert halfway around the world having left their own families behind, fuck that, no coffee for them? She forked over a pound of coffee and a Sharpie and told us to write a message on it. While I paid, Beth did. Then we waited.

Beth: Do you think they really send that pound of coffee over to Iraq?
Me: Sure. I mean, they asked us to write on it. Why wouldn't they send it?
Beth: It just seems easier to send some big shipment from Seattle.
Me: Huh. You're right. And do they even need coffee? I mean, wouldn't they be better with some pound of body armor campaign or pound of....

It was then that my brilliant idea struck me like a Mack truck on roadkill. A Pound of Porn for the Troops. I'm thinking you get a whole lot more bang for the buck (apologies for the unintended pun) out of a pound of porn. I mean, first, who doesn't love porn? There are lots of people who don't like coffee but porn, well, that's universal. Second, once you're done with a pound of coffee, you're done. But porn is the gift that keeps on giving. And once you're tired of Miss December, pass her along to the next platoon. It's recycling. So you're saving the planet. That's more than you can say about coffee.

So, who's with me? And how do we start? What are your favorite charities this year?

Posted by Chris at December 9, 2008 6:50 AM

There is a dry cleaners by my work that has pieces of paper of kids on their wall, and each kid asked for something and what you do is take one or many and go buy what they ask for and bring it's really sad, some of them asked for hats and gloves. Broke my heart

Posted by: Deirdre at December 9, 2008 7:37 AM

I will delurk to comment on this one.. I am a Marine wife who's husband was in Iraq from Dec 06-Dec 07 and I can tell you that coffee is one of the things he and his fellow Marines wanted the most.Also, the fact that they got gifts from "random" people who took the time out to send them things truly meant a lot to them! And while many of them would love the porn- it is banned. Sorry, good thought though! My charity of choice is the Wounded Warrior Foundation.

Posted by: hornet wife at December 9, 2008 7:43 AM

I'm sure my husband would agree with you,(former US Army helicopter pilot) I think the coffee is a better idea. I know the Canadian troops love having Tim Horton's in Afghanistan and it's a bit cheaper! Our favorite charity? The kids in our kid's school. I am forever putting hats and mitts on kids on our playground. They run when they see me coming!

Posted by: Christy at December 9, 2008 7:58 AM

Porn... Coffee... Tough call.

I know that for some of the soldiers webcams are available to use to talk to people back home, so some of them get their dose of naked that way. From what I heard from a friend of mine who was overseas - even if no one was getting naked for you on webcam, you could easily spot someone else's naked by looking at their screen.

A little ick, actually.

Posted by: sarah at December 9, 2008 8:24 AM

Deirdre's comment broke my heart a little too. There are so many worthy causes, I don't know where to start.

Posted by: Heather at December 9, 2008 8:26 AM

Okay, so I think it would be uber keen if we could manage to make some sort of Porn ViewMaster thing, and make 3D reels (erm, disks?). I can see it now...some guy in fatigues on top of a tank with a bright red ViewMaster stuck to his eyes INSTEAD of binoculars...Then again, they could leave em behind and when the enemy picks it up to view their head would explode from the, ah...culture.

I all for the Joe idea, though. I loves me some Joe. Hot, beige and no extra sugar.


Posted by: Julia at December 9, 2008 8:33 AM

Funny you should post about this. I just had something in my fb status about charitable giving at my company.

When I started a new job this summer, I was doing the paperwork in HR and they shoved a form under my nose and said, "This is our United Way pledge form. We have 100% participation." So I signed it and agreed to give .8% of my salary to the United Way. Whatev, I can live with that.

But now I find out that I have to bring canned food in for the food bank for the holidays. OK, that's cool. People need to eat. AND I have to make another $10 donation to the food bank at our holiday party.

And get this: THEY KEEP A LIST. AND GIVE IT TO THE CEO. He's like a really bad nightmare Santa.

Posted by: Kalisa at December 9, 2008 8:37 AM

I would donate the coffee - I hate not having a good cup of Joe and I'm here in the suburbs!
I try to focus my attention for donations to my town - Holiday for Giving, toys for tots, food drives. I bring coats and hats and mittens to our school nurse because kids come in without them.

Posted by: NancyJak at December 9, 2008 8:38 AM come up with ideas :) Must be a guy thing. lol

I don't so much have a favorite charity, but I've been a part of The One Dollar Give ( which has a featured charity each day through the month of December and they encourage all participants to give just $1 to each charity. So for $31, I get to help 31 charities along with my fellow bloggers. I think it's great because even though I'm only giving $1...the power of all forces combined are able to make a much larger difference for each charity!

I love waking up each morning to see what the new spotlight charity will be and donating my $1 while I eat breakfast. It's a great way to start my day.

Posted by: Tiffanie at December 9, 2008 8:42 AM

New York Cares' Annual Coat Drive and the Post Office. The P.O. sets aside the letters mailed to Santa. You can pick up as many as you like and deliver the gifts. Some of the letters are heartbreaking as Deirdre described, but it is an uplifting experience when you put the gifts on the doorstep, ring the bell, and run. I don't know about others, but I do it as a secret santa.

Also, check your local newspapers. They usually do hard luck stories at this time of the year. The Daily News did one a few years back on a mother of three whose husband had died. She was paying off hospital bills, etc. She said that the kids understood about not getting gifts, but not being able to give them a special meal depressed her. We bought gifts for all of them and food for Christmas Eve and Day. (She had described the meals she wished she could make.) I never felt so good in my life.

Posted by: Maria at December 9, 2008 8:51 AM

You know everytime I go to Starbucks and pay 3 billion dollars for a latte or cappuccino I swear I'm going to go home and buy an espresso maker so I can make it myself.

And I'm totally with you expect I think you should send porn AND coffee. It IS the season for giving :)

Favorite charities are the HRC, the local animal shelters and usually anything to do with helping less fortunate children.

Posted by: Jennifer at December 9, 2008 9:16 AM

I love that post office Santa letter idea, thanks for the tip Maria!
I buy from the Animal Rescue Site - great gifts and profits go to help animals in need, a cause that is important to me. Also, my mom got me involved in a local organization where you "adopt" a family in need for the holidays. You get all the information about their clothing sizes, what toys they would love, etc.

Posted by: diane at December 9, 2008 9:20 AM

I think your idea would be very popular. I've been doing loads of fundraising for a small UK charity called Aid for Children with Tracheostomies ( Our friends little girl breathes through a tracheostomy and they have had a really difficult time (not that you can tell it from Emily, she's amazing!), but support from this charity went a long way.

Posted by: Katherine at December 9, 2008 9:27 AM

Honestly, if we sent them porn, do you think less soldiers would cheat on their wives with port prostitutes? You may be onto something. I haven't given to any charities except the bell-ringer at the grocery store but I nearly did accidentally donate to a children's food charity when my son grabbed the little tickets on the register at the store. Sigh. Maybe it was a sign to just give.

Posted by: Claire at December 9, 2008 9:31 AM

That is just so true. There is really nothing like porn. No substitute that's for sure. I mean coffee is great but you could have Tea or Hot Apple Cider or Red Bull or Juice or Water and still be hydrated.

We sponsored two families this christmas which was six kids to buy for so that they would have a holiday.

Posted by: Cass at December 9, 2008 9:32 AM

In for a for a Penny. I like Penny...she is hot.

Posted by: William at December 9, 2008 9:49 AM

I spent Sunday afternoon at my church filling small ziplocks with motel sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc. for the women at the prison in Chowchilla right down the road. We did over 2,000 in 3 hours and the next shift did 2,000 more.

Barnes & Noble has a "buy a book for a kid" program so I did. Our church has an angel tree for the kids of prisoners so I'll catch up with that this week. And, of course, there's always the Salvation Army kettle. We have over 2,000 homeless here and it's getter colder by the day.

I have the honor of living in the city with the highest foreclosure rate in the country (at least for cities of our size). Add that to the businesses closing left and right around me, the layoffs for those who've managed to stay open, and it's grim. We struggle through each month on Social Security and my small retirement but at least we have a roof and food.

Posted by: Ann Adams at December 9, 2008 10:03 AM

You always make me laugh in the morning!

Posted by: Heather at December 9, 2008 10:06 AM

The Catholic Church is currently doing a massive drive to support people on and below the poverty line. Love us, hate us, the Church does a ton with orphans, the ill (including AIDS sufferers), and the impoverished.

Posted by: alektra at December 9, 2008 10:10 AM

I have no idea whether Sbux actually sends the coffee to the soldiers (but I am guessing they do), but while my dad was in Iraq coffee was one of the things he wanted us to send for him and his guys the most. He even bought a special coffee and espresso maker with his own money to have there, which he left behind for them.

And I am going to pretend you never mentioned sending p*rn... *shudder* Dads don't watch p*rn ever, period, the end.

Posted by: Stephanie at December 9, 2008 10:15 AM

hahahahaha. You are too much. I'm donating to Toys for Tots and giving some money to the non profit group I run.

Posted by: La Petite Belle at December 9, 2008 10:20 AM

No, I think we want them to keep their hands on their rifles and off of their guns, if you know what I mean.

Posted by: Jeff A at December 9, 2008 10:24 AM

I have to admit, the very first time I ever bought porn was at the request of my friend who was stationed in Iraq. I ashamedly walked into the store and tried to pick something out before crumpling and telling the clerk what I was doing. I spent twenty bucks on magazines for the poor guy. And let me tell you. The thank you e-mail was more than enough for the horror of buying it. He was ecstatic. Apparently, I bought enough for him to share with his mates.

Posted by: k8 at December 9, 2008 10:25 AM

Forgive me if someone else has already touched on this (I'm a skimmer), but unfortunately alot of the places these soldiers are in porn is forbidden and it's a major offense to be caught with it.

When my husband went to both Kuwait and Qatar we were instructed not to send anything even remotely sexual, not even a JC Penney catalog.

I think what we should do as a group here is to offer a moment of silence to honor all those fine men and women that are serving overseas that have to get creative when they are whacking off.

Posted by: Angie at December 9, 2008 10:28 AM

the beginning of this reminds me of how i always feel after checking out at IKEA. i always die about how we allow IKEA to herd us like cattle down a chute before forcing us to eat $1 cinnamon rolls! but there i am, eating a $1 cinnamon roll!

Posted by: kati at December 9, 2008 10:56 AM

As long as there are equal amounts of porn for the lady soldiers, I'll go along with your idea!

I had a cousin in the Army in Iraq; what he wanted most were phone minutes, videos and those just-add-water bowls of soup.

Posted by: Laura at December 9, 2008 11:17 AM

Hmmm, as odd as it is to admit, I like the pound of porn sounds much better than the coffee. Mostly because I can't stand it. Anyways, I always like the Make-A-Wish Foundation and St. Jude's.

Posted by: Dianna at December 9, 2008 12:30 PM

Most people don't realize porn's underlying importance to men in very stressful situations. It can be an ideal and non-firearm related way to let of steam.

On the other hand, let's fill up a skittish 19-year old with coffee, load him up with firepower, then send him out on a patrol.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at December 9, 2008 12:31 PM

Dude. I just laughed out loud in class. Thx! Probably shouldn't be reading your blog during lecture - but then I believe there is some responsibility when you lecture to be at least a little compelling.

Merry merry!

Posted by: sunshine at December 9, 2008 1:07 PM

You can only send those to bases outside of the Middle East, right? I know this because I have to sort the covers of the used books I would ship to Operation Paperback. I collect books from friends and coworkers year round.

Normally, around my birthday (around your Beth's) I would gather donations and money to ship off boxes of care packages to troops through addressed provided by

Those two and AIDS Walk Long Beach in the summer. This year I might forgo that to help a friend raise money for his AIDS Ride San Francisco-LA later.

Posted by: oakley at December 9, 2008 1:24 PM

Stick with the coffee.. porn and related paraphernalia aren't allowed in most middle eastern countries. They might cut important bits off if they find you with it, you know?

Posted by: ewe_are_here at December 9, 2008 1:33 PM

My boys and I have "adopted" a soldier. We send him regular e-mails and letter and occasional packages. Among the list of things that you are NOT allowed to send for ANY REASON is porn. Sorry. Can't send pork, either. Or liquor.

War is no fun.

Posted by: Alissa at December 9, 2008 2:51 PM

Potters in our county threw small bowls which school children decorated, and then they were fired, all without charge. Then the bowls were sold at the local Masonic Temple's art show, $10/piece. All proceeds go to the local food banks. Hunger is a serious problem up here. So I guess feeding my neighbors is my favorite charity at the moment.

Posted by: bhd at December 9, 2008 3:04 PM


Your birthday was on Friday and on Saturday you were getting a cup of faux Joe at Starbucks and you were given a shot at committing a random act of kindness. Looks like your Year Of Good Deeds is off to a flying start.

And you did another one by asking for my favorite charity. For the past six years I’ve been doing pro bono work for Vitamin Angels.

Many charities are worthwhile, but this one resonates for me because for 25 cents they will save a kid’s life.

About 250 million kids between birth and age 6 are at risk of contracting Vitamin A deficiency blindness. (Do I have to explain third world nutrition?) More than half of the children who go blind die within a year. But we’re not looking for a cure. We have it. Two megadoses of Vitamin A per year. The cost twenty-five cents.

Our goal is to end childhood blindness on the planet by the year 2020. Last year we raised enough to administer Vitamin A to 7 million kids. If you’ve got another quarter, we can save another kid. So, Be An Angel. Save A Life.

Thanks for the platform.

Posted by: Marshall at December 9, 2008 4:03 PM

lets try this again shall we? comment didnt go through cause YOU HAD RECEIVED TOO MANY COMMENTS...what's that about?? okay moving along....

as i was saying....

when jamie was overseas they were not 'allowed' to receive any magazines/movies etc that had half naked or naked women on the covers because it did not fit their culture. the mail guys would open the mail and if it had women on the cover the covers were torn off and burned in a pile.

i remember when skoal and fuji water sent goods overseas. i hope that starbucks sends their coffee over. the smallest things like a cup of coffee were HUGE to the soldiers then.

Posted by: kimmyk at December 9, 2008 6:11 PM

The coffee they can drink. I imagine it would be near impossible for any one soldier to truly utilize porn. Just sayin'. Kudo's to you for the coffee donation because...well, everytime someone asks me to donate I say no. I give to charity nearly constantly because I too feel blessed. But somehow when they ask for that additional dollar or the book donation or some such thing when I'm a patron of their establishment, it urks me. I can't even say why. The only person asking that doesn't bother me is that dude with the bell.....I feel like he's asking but the bell is asking, not a human. To me that bell rings for a cause... Oh hell nevermind..I'm making no sense it would appear.

Posted by: Kristy at December 9, 2008 6:19 PM

That's a pretty cool idea about sending the coffee to the troops via Starbucks. I imagine it costs a small fortune to ship stuff to Iraq...but they probably own the plane or something. :)

Posted by: Zandria at December 9, 2008 8:22 PM

Porn is banned from APO addresses! It will never make it there, and you will just be peeved to waste your time and money. Sorry....I have several buddies over there, and sadly, we have never been able to get anything decent through to them.

Things that have gone over well and made it through: candy (individually wrapped hard candies, suckers, etc - but no chocolate), smokes, single-serve drink mixes, handiwipes, gum, other magazines that aren't considered porn.

Posted by: Jen at December 9, 2008 11:48 PM

As a 5 year Starbucks employee (who just recently left the company), I'd like to reassure you that the coffee really truly does get sent. Starbucks also does some from-the-warehouse donations, but store collections get sent from the store level. In my area, it was a district wide thing- we'd collect in-store and then every month or so get volunteers from each store together for a massive packing & shipping extravaganza. Some of it was sent directly to soldiers we knew (my brother, a regular customer, a barista's husband) and the rest was sent to people who would distribute it around, but every pound donated was packed and sent. Or at least, that's how it worked in my area (NC)- I'm assuming it's similar to how it works in yours.

Posted by: Kate at December 10, 2008 1:06 AM

Omg, I should have known better.

The one time we're sitting here in front of the fire, all cozy and family like and I've got the laptop reading blogs, I let Jake lean over and read.

Which was fantastic until I got to the last paragraph and then I had a 13 year old in hysterics next to me.

ROFL! (and no Jake, you CAN'T have any.)

Posted by: Scatteredmom at December 10, 2008 11:15 PM

I just forwarded this post to Bryan. So not only is porn good for the troops, it's good for marriages too!

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at December 11, 2008 1:30 AM

I really enjoy giving all year round by trying to live simplistic as possible and donating everything that I don't need -- I keep a bin for "Salvation Army/Goodwill/St. Vincent de Paul" on hand at all times so I everytime I look at something and think "ugh, I don't need this" I can throw it in there and know that someone will be able to make use of it :)

Posted by: Sarah at December 11, 2008 7:50 PM