An open letter to charities

Linda Conway Eriksson - Contributing Columnist

Dear Charity:

I heard from you again today. You have been keeping in really close touch with me lately.

The work you do is close to my heart. I am interested in seeing you accomplish positive things for those you serve. From disadvantaged people who need a hand to climb up and out of their circumstances to those fighting disease, to abused spouses, children, animals and the environment — your work benefits humanity by bettering many different aspects of our lives.

For just a moment, I ask you to look at your solicitations from my perspective. Can one person really use all those greeting cards that come from several worthy charities? How many dream catchers can be hung around one house? I have enough return address stickers to last me until I’m at least 112 — as long as I don’t move!

What additional good could you do with those dimes and nickels you stick onto your requests? And what about the dollar bills? (Although paper money comes mostly along with political solicitations, which makes me wonder how much they really need my little bit.)

How much money can one family send monthly to how many charities? Does it dilute the contribution until it doesn’t do much good for any one organization when it’s divided among multiple worthy causes?

There are a lot of really worthwhile charities soliciting money. The thing is, I don’t have deep pockets, so I have to choose carefully among all the requests. I simply cannot give to every charity. I feel guilty about tossing name stickers, gift cards, Christmas wrap, dream catchers, and all the other products that find their way to my door in the name of sweet charity.

So, here’s what I do: generic products, such as greeting cards, cute stickers, and some of the dream catchers, go to the retirement center where my mother lived. I take a deep breath and pitch the return address stickers I know I’ll never use if I live to be over 100; Christmas wrap I actually use; coins and the occasional paper money I feel free to use as I need to.

Since I started giving these freebies to people who can actually use them, I feel much better about things. I suggest the same attitude to you. Nobody can make you feel guilty unless you allow it. And you don’t really owe anyone for unsolicited goods. Pass it along to someone who will use it.

And give what you can to the charities that you really care about.

When the day’s done, enjoy something that will warm your belly as well as your heart. Make enough to take to a neighbor or friend who doesn’t have the time — or money, or maybe the energy — to make something homemade. Deliver something unexpected for someone’s dinner. Your friend or neighbor will be grateful. It’s true charity begins at home.


2 cups chicken broth

Cream (1/4 the amount of the broth)

A dash of nutmeg

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken

Top with croutons if desired

In a large saucepan or double boiler over medium heat, warm the broth, cream, nutmeg, parsley and chicken to serving temperature. Top with croutons, if desired.

Have a bowl and take a jarful to a neighbor. You’ll warm your heart as well as your neighbor’s.

Makes enough to serve two generously.

Linda Conway Eriksson

Contributing Columnist

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at