Friday, October 12, 2007

It's Also National Pizza Month

I'm really lucky (knock on wood) that Ethan hasn't been sent home with fundraisers for school yet. I remember with disdain my own school days, begging people to buy something from me so I could win that new! bike! Every year, they'd hype us up with fancy talk and shiny prize photos. Even though I only ever sold to my mom and grandmother, I was sure this time, I'd win something great instead of another pencil.

I've got a million pencils.

I can't blame folks for turning away when they see yet another school fundraiser come by. Who needs another magazine? Frozen pies? Ten dollar trinkets? Cookie dough? And yet, I still remember how much it meant to me when someone would contribute to my school fundraiser. So I always make it a point to buy something, even if it's the cheapest thing in the catalog.

Similarly, I always get suckered into giving at the grocery store checkout. I feel bad that the teenager has asked the 45 people before to buy a paper shoe for a dollar, and was probably told by 43 of them "I gave last week." And really, what's a buck? The same holds for people I know going on charitable walks. I can't always give a lot, but I always try to give something.

And yet, I signed up for the local Easter Seals walk without much optimism for raising money. I know how hard it can be, and I know money is tight for a lot of people. What I didn't consider, however, was how tight the competition for charity dollars would be. Because, unfortunately, I was stuck asking for donations during October.

You all know what October is, right? It's Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Everywhere you look, there are pink ribbons and posters. Reminders that this is an important month. My office has signs up reminding us that 1 in 8 women will eventually get breast cancer. In honor of the month, there are several local breast cancer walks this month as well.

And this is important work. Breast cancer is a terrible disease. It affects thousands of women, and devastates families. I fully support the search for a cause, and I've given to many friends and coworkers doing breast cancer fundraisers over the years. And I'll continue to give as long as they continue asking me. I'll also give to their fundraisers for heart disease, and muscular dystrophy, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Because those are worthy causes as well.

But a lot of people seem to think they need to pick Their Charity. They have to decide which cause they're behind, and stick with that one. And breast cancer seems to be the charity of choice for a lot of people.

The big response when you ask for donations to a fundraiser is silence. I respect that, and I'm not going to harrass anyone. But this time around, I've gotten an explanation from several folks that they can't give to me, because they're already giving to so-and-so's walk for breast cancer. Because it's Breast Cancer Awareness month.

It doesn't bother me that they don't want to give. And it doesn't bother me that it's Breast Cancer Awareness month. What bugs me is that I wonder if they know what else October represents.

Did you know it's also Disability Awareness month?

I don't think it's popular to raise money for disabled people. There are no cute ribbons or posters around celebrating Disability Awareness month. No one wants to talk about the disabled, or think about being disabled one day themselves.

Part of the problem is that disabilities vary widely from person to person. Breast cancer is a disease with a single goal of "cure". But there are no cures on the horizon that will help every disabled person. Solutions are usually found on an individual basis, with ramps and crutches and special therapies. So it remains a problem that affects "them", not "us."

But that isn't really true. We are "them." Yes, 1 in 8 women will eventually get breast cancer. But did you know 1 in 5 people (men, women and children) currently have some sort of disability? And that eventually, 1 in 2 people become disabled in their lifetime?

Maybe someday Disability Awareness will get it's own special ribbon, and it's own massive press. Until then, it will be up to us, the family and friends and people with disabilities to spread the word. After all, charity begins at home.

(And no, I wasn't kidding about the Pizza thing...)


Mom Of Thomas said...

You know, I didn't even know October was disability awareness month even though my little guy is disabled! Awareness definately needs to be raised. Those statistics are scary. But you are right, people don't want to think about the disabled because then they have to think about what if it happens to them or someone they love.

And another thing you are right about, it is only $1 for a paper shoe or a hand or a balloon. So come on people, hand over that buck because $1 from a dozen, a hundred, a thousand, or a million people could make all the difference.

Anonymous said...

I'm right there with you - I'd rather give the dollar to the cashier as a donation to the charity the store is promoting than spend it on a candy bar. You can't really buy much for a dollar but these drives show that one dollar can actually help make a difference. Just about every store I shop in has a shoe or ballon or bunny hanging it with the name of my dog or one of the grandkids. I'm one of those "Breast Cancer Awareness" walkers mainly because I was asked by someone else to join them. I think that is a big thing - rather than straight out asking for the money - ask someone else to join you in the walk or fundraising or blood donation. Sometimes it just doesn't occur to people to get involved. With all the kids bringing home school fundraisers - and dance, boy scouts and soccer - October taps me out, because like you - I rememeber not wanting to be the only one that didn't get the dress down day or the in-school movie.

Anonymous said...

I never thought I would be in this place in life. I had worked 2 jobs fro, 16 to 23.Then It hit brain thinks that I have a brain tumor but I do not. I am losing my eyesight quickily from this.Medical bills are minimum 35000.-- per year and I CAN'T work or drive. My house has became a prision, because we have nothing to spend. If anyone wants to help a person that worked there whole like and could be living on the streets soon. God will bless you and I will aslo.I doesn't matter if it is 1.00 or more.

If you know any disabled people please help them as much as possible.

Ack if you want to get ahold of me or just to talk

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