I work next to Rockefeller Center, so there is no way I can avoid the oncoming holidays, even if I wanted to. The crowds, the tree, the ice skaters, the camels getting their morning exercise on 5th Avenue--if someone had told me that this would be part of my commute each day, back when I was a kid growing up in Auburn, Massachusetts, I would never have believed them.
Ah well, if you can't beat them, join them.
Each year, in addition to decking my halls and baking lots of cookies (gluten free), I give a donation to a special organization. It's a soup kitchen that my friend Sarah from college worked at called Neighbors Together.
Why, this organization, you ask? Well, I've got a couple of reasons.
First off, I know exactly where my money is going. It's going to feed people who don't have the money to feed themselves. Second, since Sarah worked there, I have a good sense of how the organization functions. I know that the people who run it are good people and they believe in the work they do. Third, my first NYC teaching experience was as a fourth-grade tutor in Bedford-Stuyvesant, so I have a special connection to the "neighbors" that Neighbors Together serves.
Finally, no matter how much or how little I give, I always get a thank you letter. It's the standard, "thank you for your tax-deductable donation" letter, but Ed Fowler, the Executive Director always writes a personal note to me on it, thanking me in his own words. And it gets me every time. (I always wonder if he does that for everyone, or just me...and I guess that's the power of it.) Not only does it make me want to donate more, it makes me want to head down to the food kitchen and help serve.
The reason I'm telling you all this, is not just to get you to make a donation to Neighbors Together. (Of course, don't let me stop you, it's a great organization.) The reason I'm telling you this is because I want you to know that I understand why it might be difficult to pledge your hard-earned money to a musical called Helen on 86th St. when there are so many people, organizations and causes that could benefit from that money. If anyone gets that, it's me.
And it's not fair to ask you to do something that I haven't done. So, this year, in addition to sending my annual donation to Neighbors Together, I have decided to choose 5 Kickstarter projects to make a $10 pledge to.
Why? Because I can. And it's important.
It's not going to break even my (very humble) bank to give $50 of my income to support the arts. And those Kickstarter people are my comrades! They are trying to bring their artistic projects, their social causes and their voices to the public. They are trying to make a difference. They are opening themselves up and saying, "I believe in something and I want to share it with you! Help me make that happen!"
I mean, regardless of what holidays you celebrate over the next month, one thing that we all share in common, is that we really are all in this together...this human struggle, this experience we call life. And while we have to make sure everyone can eat, we also have to respect and support those people who are feeding our souls.
So, stay tuned, to see which projects get the "Kempskie Pick."