What do you do with your Xmas Cards, after the holiday is over?
December 27, 2000 11:57 AM   Subscribe

What do you do with your Xmas Cards, after the holiday is over? St. Jude's Ranch, a nonsectarian, not for profit haven for abused children, collects used holiday cards to recycle into new ones. This program raises money for these children is divided between a college fund, and a little spending money. Send them your cards - make this your last act of deliberate kindness for the year.
posted by kristin (19 comments total)
I know that a lot of site owners do Christmas card exchanges with their readers - I did, and I got a tonne of wonderful cards. It is nice to know that all of that good will can be recycled for a good cause.

Cards can be sent here:

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
100 St. Jude’s Street
Boulder City, NV 89005-1618
posted by kristin at 11:59 AM on December 27, 2000

Better yet, save the money you normally spend on postage mailing out Holiday cards, and save the money spent on other useless commercial gestures, pull out your checkbook and donate some real money to somebody who needs it.

This sounds like one of those useless acts of "kindness and generosity" that does more for the giver than the recipient. Reminds me of "A day without Weblogs".

Give me a break.

posted by bondcliff at 12:43 PM on December 27, 2000

I wonder how much traffic shot up on December 1 for the weblogs that chose not to take the day off participate in "Day Without Weblogs."

And I send all my used Christmas cards to Craig Shergold.
posted by aaron at 2:17 PM on December 27, 2000

You know, it is particularly twisted when people can't do anything but deride what is, at it's core, a good thing.
posted by Dreama at 7:29 PM on December 27, 2000

Indeed. After all, I can't control how many holiday cards I receive (except perhaps by being my usual misanthropic self). But I can control what happens to them when I want to get rid of them.
posted by kindall at 8:03 PM on December 27, 2000

Damn those kids. Damn them to HELL! The root of all that is evil and twisted in the world, surely that is what they are.
posted by dhartung at 9:26 PM on December 27, 2000

You know, it is particularly twisted when people prefer to do meaningless things in the name of others in order to feel good about themselves, rather than do things that are actually good for those other people.

Bondcliff has it exactly right. A mere $5 check would benefit this charity far more than your leftover cards, and cost a lot less to mail as well. That's deliberate kindness.
posted by aaron at 9:42 PM on December 27, 2000

Wait. You're saying it's better to throw away your holiday cards (I mean, recycle them) than to send them to this outfit?

If you wanna throw a check in there too, it won't cost you any extra to mail.
posted by kindall at 11:32 PM on December 27, 2000

"You know, it is particularly twisted when people can't do anything but deride what is, at it's core, a good thing."

At its core it is NOT a good thing. It is only a good thing when one looks at the thin "good thing" veneer on its surface. When we dig deep into it is nothing but a bit of "feel goodness" (to coin a phrase) for the person doing it. The same thing can be said of "Day Without Weblogs" which is why I made the comparison.

People spend hours writing out holiday cards then spend a few bucks on postage mailing them out. You display them in your home for a couple weeks, collect them up, put them in an envelope, attach some postage to them again and mail them to these people. Then a bunch of kids spends a few weeks with white-out (or whatever they do to them) and make them usable again. They're then sold for a few cents a piece, probably less than the postage spent mailing them out.

Seems like a lot of effort on everyone's part. What is more valuable, the few cents the kid ends up with or the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you tell all your friends what you're doing?

If you want to do something that is "good" at its core, recycle your cards, write a check to your local shelter and then keep quiet about it. It's a lot less effort for everyone involved.

posted by bondcliff at 6:06 AM on December 28, 2000

I was about to share the link with co-workers but I visited the site... and became suddenly creeped out at the image of a hundred kids toiling away at folding tables cutting & glueing, cutting & glueing... to earn 15 cents per refurbished card. Maybe it's not the Oliver-Twistian child-labor sweatshop of my imagination, but still, I decided I'd rather just send them a few bucks.

(And I'm not even gonna bring up the issue of the copyrighted art of the original cards being re-purposed without permission.)
posted by Tubes at 9:42 AM on December 28, 2000

"At its core it is NOT a good thing. "

Bondcliff, how do you figure that something that creates a positive result from a zero-sum starting point is NOT a good thing?

Yes, you can just send a check to wherever or whomever, but if you can send a check along with the cards that you'd otherwise throw away, the cards which kindall rightly pointed out that you cannot control the receipt of, how much more help have you offered?

And what about the people who can't afford to send a check at all, but have plenty of cards lying about? Those cards are a help, whether you agree with the way that the help is derived, or not.

And believe it or not, but there are people who undertake acts like sending cards to orphanages or putting up information and links on the Day without Art/Weblogs in order to help others, not just for the personal satisfaction. Doesn't it get boring to be so cynical about every thing all the time?
posted by Dreama at 10:36 AM on December 28, 2000

Sorry if I appear cynical.

Yes, this does help kids but in a very small way. There are other, eaiser ways of helping kids though. This one just happens to be at the end of a large chain of excess.

Please explain to me how Day Without Weblogs helped anyone except for those participating in it.
posted by bondcliff at 12:03 PM on December 28, 2000

I believe if St. Jude's wants your money, they can ask for that. I also believe that there is a wide range of things you can do to help people, and not every one of them is going to be as "easy" or "effective" as the next. But a lot of them need doing anyway.

bondcliff, don't be an ass. What the hell am I supposed to do on December 1, go out and find a cure for f$#*(g AIDS myself? What have YOU done instead?
posted by dhartung at 12:21 PM on December 28, 2000

Great. I've been here two days and I'm hated already.

I don't have a problem with anyone making an attempt to help people. I don't have a problem with anyone actually going out and helping people physically or financially.

I do tend to question peoples motives sometimes though, especially when I can't see any real benefit for their actions. Sometimes things look good on the surface but when we actually think about them we can see how pointless they really.

I honestly feel this is one of those times. I compared it to DWoW because I felt that was one of those times too. I said as much and now I'm being an ass. Yet nobody has actually taken up my challenge of explaining who really benefited from it.

That's the all I'm going to say. Sorry if I offended anyone.
posted by bondcliff at 12:43 PM on December 28, 2000

Jim, I'm certain your criticism is well intended; in the best of all possible worlds, we could all undertake great actions in behalf of large concerns and see our individual efforts make an impact or a positive difference. In the world we have, though, it is more often a variety of small actions, on the parts of people of good faith and intention, that in their sum bring about a change for the better. The big actions are the exceptions to the rule.

As for the efficacy of projects such as Day Without Art, A Day With(out) Weblogs and the like, I can only share my experience as an organizer. More than 3/4 of the participating websites in DWW chose to leave their weblog or journal in place for the day and to select AIDS/HIV-related education links or to tell a story from their own life about how the AIDS pandemic has affected them. (MetaFilter itself being one good example.)

In the days that followed, I received dozens of e-mails from folks who considered the project a success, including a gentleman who learned how he could help transport much needed medications to Africa on his next trip, a teen who had received no practical information in school health curricula to protect herself and found a link to safer-sex guidelines on a website she read regularly, several folks who -- as a result of reading a particularly provocative personal story -- decided to actively support works-exchange programs by lobbying their elected officials and contributing money, and a woman who discovered a long-lost friend's name among those displayed on the AIDS Memorial Quilt, thereby finally putting a face on what was for her a faceless and meaningless epidemic.

I could go on for a bit, and that's not even considering those folks who participated and appreciated the way World AIDS Day gave them an opportunity to focus on protecting themselves and those they loved, and to consider what they could do in their own communities in the days to come. If, as you assert, DWW and projects like it, helped only those who participated, then by that measure alone I would consider it a success in its goals of education and awareness.

Finally, let's be clear on one thing: A Day With(out) Weblogs is not "my" project, nor is it (as one e-mail correspondent said last week) a "pathetic attempt to draw traffic to your piece-of-shit website." It was a collaborative educational effort, involving hundreds of thoughtful people around the world, to make a positive dent in the universe. From little acorns mighty trees can grow...I hope we aren't missing the forest for the sight of those trees here.
posted by bradlands at 12:54 PM on December 28, 2000

Bondcliff, dude, you've only been here two days before being called an ass? Congratulations, it means people are paying attention to you and felt what you said was provocative enough to be worth responding to passionately. Believe me, it's far preferable to being ignored! And in any case, you can't say anything worth saying without pissing somebody off.

I respect the concept and effort behind events like "Day Without Art/Weblogs," though this event in particular rubbed me the wrong way for a variety of reasons. The main one is the implication that if we don't do something about AIDS, then someday soon there wouldn't be any art and/or weblogs, which is of course preposterous. When you try to use one thing to draw attention to another, the two things should have some sort of relation, a connection that can be made by the observer to make it stick in their mind, or it just doesn't work. "Day Without Weblogs" would be an excellent theme for a protest against censorship or something of the sort, but it's kind of limp for an AIDS awareness effort, in my opinion.

Of course this is a marketing issue, not a philosophical one; I don't mean to take away from the intentions of the organizers or the results they've achieved in any way. It's a worthy cause. I just think their meme could be a little better engineered...
posted by kindall at 1:55 PM on December 28, 2000

The connection, kindall, for Day Without Art comes from the vast number of people in the arts community who have died from AIDS/related illnesses. As it originally started, it was an act of memorial and not much more -- a bold act meant only to garner attention to the epidemic which, at that time, was not as mainstream as it is now. As the movement came to the web, it was clear that beyond just going black, we were offered an opportunity to act en masse, using our sites on that one day as tools for sharing information and educating our visitors.

If one person learned one new fact about HIV/AIDS by following one of the links put up, if one person was finally able to put a human face on AIDS by reading a memorial essay, then the goal of DWA/DWW was met.
posted by Dreama at 8:17 PM on December 28, 2000

For what it's worth, here's my experience of "Day without weblogs" from one reader's point of view.

I don't read weblogs every day, I have bookmarked about ten-fifteen favorites that I access every few days or so. One of those days just happened to co-incided with "Day without weblogs."

About four of the sites I visit had a brief message, stating that they were not updating their content on that day because they were taking part in something I had never heard of before "Day Without Weblogs"

Some of the sites, just hadn't been updated, but since there was plenty of content available from the other days, I had plenty to read. I'm not sure if they were taking part in the cause, or had just not updated their content that day.

About three of the weblogs contained a link to an AIDS related story, one of which was quite old and which I recalled reading before. I didn't understand the link between weblogs and the AIDS cause (a cause I feel very strongly about) and still don't. Some sites also contained a link back to the site that organized the "Day Without Weblogs." It contained some very humble, genuine, and well-intentioned content.

I don't have an issue with people doing whatever they wish to do with their weblogs (naturally) Nor do I have a problem with people commenting on just how much good (bad, or shades of gray) might come out of what they are doing. It's a good sign imho.

On the one hand, I understand the statements that doing good shouldn't be just a "feel good exercise." On the other, I understand that it may be one of the few emotions that engages human empathy and sympathy to the extent that it makes them want to do good. I'm just stating the ambiguity here, not knowing exactly what to do with it.

This thread seems to contain people who "understand" the link between giving up weblogs and the HIV/AIDS cause and those who don't.

I include myself in the latter category. I am confused as to its meaning. Is it meant to be a day when one does not update at all? In which case the title "Day Without Weblogs" (not sure if that is the official title, but is the way that most people commonly refer to it) would certainly seem to suggest) Or when one should include HIV/AIDS as a topic? Or is it ok to do either/or? Should one be going out into the “real” world and doing something to help or commemorate AIDS as a cause? Why does updating a log exclude this? (Yes, I know I should have looked at the site in question in more detail, but this is meant to be an honest account, not one rendered in hindsight)

I honestly don't understand the "nothing at all" approach, because I believe that good cannot come out of giving up something that is positive, just for the sake of it. It seems that some people find their weblogs very important, even therapeutic, and many readers would feel the same way.

I guess I believe that if you understand the meaning of "A Day Without Weblogs", and want to take part either as a reader or a contributor, that's fine. If however you feel that you have to take part, even though you don't wish to or aren't fully cognisant of the link between the AIDS cause and “Day Without Weblogs (and aren't comfortable about that fact)............if you have decided that a “Day Without Weblogs” just isn’t relevant for you then that would seem to be entirely the wrong thing to do.

It’s important to note (this not in response to anything that's been written, but rather to help clarify my own point of view) that just because people don’t take part in this cause, it doesn’t mean that they are doing nothing. Perhaps some people prefer to interact with their readers about important issues in other ways and at other times, just as some readers might choose to seek out information on the topic when they feel it is right for them.

posted by lucien at 12:15 PM on December 31, 2000

The connection, kindall, for Day Without Art comes from the vast number of people in the arts community who have died from AIDS/related illnesses.

There are a vast number of people who have died from AIDS and related illnesses, period. But you don't see the Big Three (or for that matter the UAW) declaring a Day Without Cars to mourn all the autoworkers who have died of AIDS. I guess what really bothers me is that "Day Without Art" links AIDS victims and the art community in a way that comes off as proprietary (yes, yes, I know it's not meant that way). "AIDS and its victims belong to us." Well, yeah, some of them. "Our mourning is better than yours." Well, thank God all those artists have come up with a way for the rest of us to be made aware of their mourning and to participate vicariously. I completely understand that's not the intent, but that's how it comes across. Largely, as I said, I think it's a matter of a rather complicated message not being clearly communicated.
posted by kindall at 1:57 PM on December 31, 2000

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