Sunday, October 23, 2011

Small sacrifices

As you may have heard by now, the wonderful organization Operation Write Home is in need of donations to cover the cost of shipping boxes of beautiful handmade cards overseas for heroes to write home to their families during the holiday season. The projected cost is $13,000! Many people are on a tight budget and find it hard to give as much as they would like to. Here are a few suggestions of ways we can allocate just a little more to this special cause.

1. Donate via check instead of PayPal. Don't get me wrong, PayPal is a great way to handle transactions online in a secure, expedient way. I use it frequently. There are fees associated with that transaction, however, and these fees mean that a small percentage of what you donate won't make it to OWH. To avoid this, write a check. Better yet, check out your online banking. My bank allows me to designate a check recipient and choose an amount online and the bank will write the check and mail it for me at no cost. That means I use less of my checks (which are rather expensive), I don't have to pay postage, and OWH gets every cent of my donation.

2. Use coupon savings. Everyone loves a coupon and who among us hasn't cashed in at JoAnn or Michael's with one? Earmark your next coupon savings, whether at the grocery store or craft store to OWH. While you're at it, include any cash back you get for using your own bags at check out, such as the 5 cents Target gives. Do this even once a month, and you'll have a nice sum for OWH.

3. Skip the new supplies. You really want that new stamp, pack of paper, or punch. A lot. Put one thing back on the shelf and put that money toward shipping. You'll be proud of yourself and the heroes will have more cards at their disposal.

4. Ship in quantity. I start my cards way, way ahead of the deadline so I know I will be able to fill a large box before I ship. I usually ship boxes of 300 for $15, so it costs 5 cents per card to get them to my shipper. At Mother's Day, there was a plea for more cards. I mailed 10 for around 2.25. That's 22.5 cents per card. If you can send larger boxes and make use of the flat rate shipping the post office offers, you will save shipping funds which you can in turn send to OWH. Ask the post office clerk when you send the flat rate box what it would cost if it weren't flat rate. Last time, there was a $7 difference in my large FRB and the cost of shipping that same box priority.

5. Skip the movie rental. Instead, check out a movie from the local library (even in my itty bitty town, they have a great selection), watch one streaming from a site like Hulu, or borrow a DVD from a friend. Put the $1 you saved by not going to the kiosk in your next OWH donation. There's also a link to a site called "Swap a DVD" on my sidebar where you can trade in DVDs you don't want any more for different ones.

6. Make a pizza at home. Skip the delivery pizza and make your own. Have kids? Get English muffins and let them make their own pizzas with fun faces. You'll be a star and the money you saved can help OWH.

7. Pack lunch. Yours, your spouse's and your kids'. If your family decides to pack lunch one day (or one week, or all month) instead of buying, figure out your savings and use that to support OWH.

8. Yard sale/eBay. At your next yard sale, consider offering some or all of your profits to OWH. Make signs letting people know that your yard sale is supporting this great charity and have AnyHero cards and coloring sheets for kids. (People might stay longer and buy more things, and it's a great way to get kid letters.) Be sure to talk up OWH, especially if you are selling craft items- you may find a new card marker for OWH. You can also have your kids help by manning a bake sale table with profits going to OWH. If you feel a desire to clean out your craft room (or any room, for that matter), you can designate your earnings on eBay for OWH. Make this clear in the listing and people may bid a little higher!

9. Set aside change for OWH. Not that we use cash much anymore, but if you do, consider emptying extra coins from your wallet into a jar for OWH. Count them up every few months and see how much you can donate!

10. Budget for your donation. Even if you make a donation that is small in your eyes, it will help cards get overseas. Remember, it costs about 5 cents per card for OWH to ship a card to a hero. Try to donate the equivalent of 5 cents per card for the cards that you donate. For example, if you send 100 cards, try to send at least $5. That will cover the shipping, and any additional you can give will cover the other associated expenses. If you want to place a monthly donation into your family budget, go for it! You can use tip #1 to set it up so checks are automatically mailed to OWH on a schedule that works for you.

Do you feel inspired to give now? You can donate via PayPal here or mail a donation to any of the three shippers whose addresses are here. If you want an embroidered OWH patch, be sure to include an AnyHero card with your donation of $10 or more and a note stating you'd like a patch. One more suggestion: KnK Designs is selling special digi bundles through 11/1 and the entire purchase price minus PayPal fees goes to OWH. Check them out here.

By the way, OWH is in no way responsible for the content of this post. These are just my own thoughts, tips, and suggestions. I hope you will find one of these ideas useful as you look for ways to support OWH's financial need while being mindful of your own budget. If you like what you read here, I would appreciate it if you would link others to this post from your blog. Thanks!!!

Cards shipped to OWH (as of 10/20/11): 1642


  1. Kathryn, This is a great post! I do the same thing in terms of trying to send my cards in larger packages and this year I started shipping via UPS which turns out to be less the USPS for me. I think you should share this post at the FB page (forgive me if you already did and I missed it) because I am certain it would be helpful to many OWHers.

  2. Great tips, Kathryn! Glad you shared it on the Facebook page. Should inspire all of us to figure out creative ways to do a little more.


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