Wednesday, December 14, 2005

And Lo, Unto You Cool Shoes Were Found

We had a meeting at work this morning, and after two hours of sitting I decided I needed a walk. It's a chilly, yet dry, day. Perfect!

I went downtown to the Place That Has the Gift For OH, and bought one of his Christmas gifts. This was not a long enough walk, so I continued. I decided to head for the new Goodwill on SW 10th and Taylor.

First, there was the $4.50 umbrella to replace the umbrella I recently bought with the cool, gel handle, then promptly broke the second time I used it when I got it caught on a seat while riding the streetcar. Moving right along...

Second there is the Liz Claiborne sweater for $25. It is black on bottom, with a white stripe in the middle, and then the black/grey thing going on on top, which looks classic and fits perfectly.

Third is the Eddie Bauer Italian merino wool sweater in red for $13. I have one exactly like this in navy blue, for which I paid a bit more, and I love it. Now I have two to love.

Lastly, there are the camel Ann Taylor slip-ons with a thick, two-inch heel for $30. $30!! They are regularly $90. (I know this because the sticker is still on the bottom of the shoe showing the original price.)

Now, I realize these are not rock-bottom Goodwill prices. However, you have to agree that those are some good prices for great merchandise. This is an upscale Goodwill located in the city's downtown shopping area. And, it is still Goodwill: the money goes to help disabled people and others with jobs and services. It is for a good cause.

Wait a is a way to HELP PEOPLE?!? Good G-d, people, I have just stumbled upon the holy grail of rationalizing retail therapy. It's not only good for your soul, it's good for the disabled.

I'm not being facetious, either. Goodwill is a great organization that does good work. It is the season of giving and in that spirit, I would like to highlight other organizations.

Help people who work but can't always afford enough food by donating to the Oregon Food Bank. Oregon spent many years with one of the highest hunger rates in the nation. We have been ranked better in recent years, but there are still many people out there who can't afford enough food. Especially as their heating bills rise in the cold weather months. Additionally, 220,000 working poor in this nation may no longer receive food stamps now that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a recent appropriations bill by a slim margin (every Democrat and 12 Republicans voted "no"; the vote was 215-213 with six absent). These are working people, who work at jobs that require work. They are low-paid, often have childcare expenses on top of that, and require the extra help that food stamps provide. They will no longer have that option if the Senate also passes the bill. Oregon's Governor Kulongoski said in a recent interview that one of the reasons Oregon's hunger rate has dropped is due to the Federal food stamp program. And soon, Congress will vote on a tax bill that will negate these savings potentially reaped if food stamps and Medicaid benefits are cut, by continuing the tax cuts on capital gains and dividend income. Apparently, we have better things on which to spend our money than the working poor and health care. Let's cut more taxes, jack up the deficit, and cut programs that help legal, hard-working Americans! Yay! Quality of life is so yesterday.

This is the season to make everyone's load a little lighter. Part of what motivates us to move forward and keep going is when we get a little kindness, when we can enjoy a small break from daily struggles, isn't it?

Another organization that helps families with emergency food is the Portland Police Sunshine Division. It's been around since 1923 when it began informally by a group of officers who wanted to help people around the holidays. The next years saw it become an official part of the Portland Police Bureau, until 1994 when it became entirely self-sufficient. They receive no Federal or State funding, and are not associated with United Way. Their focus is on helping children, the elderly and the handicapped. Consider making a donation to this non-profit organization with an impeccable reputation. Their website contains lots of good information.

At the very least, avoid being a heartless creature and go shopping at Goodwill.

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