The bookstore I work in ran a book and toy drive this month. It ends today and we managed to blow past our store goal and have had many more books donated than expected. All the donations go to local foster kids so it’s really a cool program and I liked it enough to push it pretty well with our customers.
As far as I know, I managed to get the most donations (I have to double check the numbers today) and I think that’s just because it was something I could really believe in. Books are incredibly important, especially for kids. Reading fosters creativity, imagination, literacy, critical thinking, interest in learning, etc. If there is a way I can help get books to kids who need them then I will do it.
I would always present the book drive by gesturing to the suggested books we kept at the register and giving a very short summary of what it was before asking if they would be interested in donating a book. I actually went a little bit the extra mile by making sure there was a wide price range available for the books I suggested at my register. If someone was hesitant about the $15 book that was in the front I could easily suggest a $5 or $10 book that was more what they were willing to donate. I never tried to press people into donating beyond making it as easy as possible to do so. (I don’t think any of my coworkers tried to guilt anyone either or press them into doing something they clearly didn’t want to do.)
Sometimes when I would present the book drive the customer would say that they had already donated at their church or they usually donated to some other charities. To them I would say, that’s wonderful! And I would move on with no more pressure to give a book. Occasionally, a customer would say that they wish they could donate but just had so little money right then that the gifts they were buying was all they could afford that week. To them I would say, that’s totally fine! And I would move on. I know people can feel guilty about not donating, especially when it’s something they feel connected to in some way. If a customer expressed that kind of sentiment I was always quick to say that you can’t do everything.
This time of year, everyone is asking for donations. Money, toys, books, etc. It can be very overwhelming very fast. You can’t do everything. There are a million charities out there because one charity could never perform all the duties necessary. You have to choose where to put your support. I know I would love to be able to give a lot to many charities because there are a lot doing an insane amount of good. But I can’t. Neither can you. And that’s okay. You don’t have to.
It may be awkward for a moment with the cashier when you say you’re too broke to give but we understand. How are you supposed to work and give when you can if you can’t pay your rent this week? Give when you can to what you can and don’t beat yourself up about not giving all the time. I encourage sharing with those less fortunate than yourself but I think it’s better to make a difference in one place rather than spread yourself too thin across many.
I won’t be posting next week as it will be Christmas Eve.
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!