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What’s Your Priority? Helping Those in Need

If you ask shelter, food bank and other charitable organization employees and volunteers about how 2009 is shaping up, the answer seems to be the same — donations are down; need is up. Here’s how you can help.


If you ask shelter, food bank and other charitable organization employees and volunteers about how 2009 is shaping up, the answer seems to be the same — donations are down; need is up.
As a Postal employee, I’m always looking for ways to help get the word out about our products and services,, Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes, new stamps and philatelic items. It’s not a stretch. I use these products and services. I have an area in my home where I keep Priority Mail boxes, packing supplies and tape, and Click-N-Ship labels. Ask my rural carrier; she’s picked up a good many packages from my front porch.
One of the most recent packages I mailed was to a homeless shelter. I read in their newsletter about the mothers and children living there and I thought of the youngsters going back to school. I loaded up a large flat rate box with school supplies, books, a few item of clothing and a couple toys, and mailed it to the shelter.
Let me interject something here. I know many of us support charities by donating money. But I also like to check out clothing clearance racks — winter in spring; summer in fall. Then I store the items until the appropriate time of year before donating them. And what child doesn’t like toys and games? Right after the holidays you can pick up items from clearance shelves and give them all year round. When I was collecting school supplies, I hit the sales along with everyone else.
It isn’t always convenient to stop by a shelter or organization headquarters in order to make a donation. To me, mailing the items works. There’s something that feels right about lining a box with tissue paper, carefully arranging items in the box and adding a note to staff members and volunteers thanking them for all their hard work.
I read recently of the needs of Appalachian Outreach clients. Their requests may seem simple, but according to the organization’s website these items are desperately needed in parts of Southern West Virginia: soap and hand sanitizer, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush, mouthwash and dental floss, shaving needs, and clothing.
This organization also sponsors two ‘shoebox’ missions.
Baby Bonus Boxes are given to new mothers when they leave the hospital. Item needed include sleepers, onesies and hats; baby power, shampoo and oil; small stuffed animals, teething rings and rattles; shoes and socks; bottles and nipples and spoons.
Shoebox Santa boxes are given to adults in need of personal hygiene items and small gifts. Items needed, and appreciated, include soap, shampoo, deodorant, hand lotion, corn plasters, stamps, notepads, pens and pencils, gloves, folding umbrellas and magnifying glasses.
Complete lists can be found on
The Postal Service has free Priority Mail Shoe Boxes. They are available at your local Post Office or online at
Items can be mailed to Appalachian Outreach, Inc, 1012 Grandview Road, Glen Dale WV 26038-1012.
If you decide to donate
Look around. Read your local newspaper. Surf the Internet.
There are homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters, outreach programs, nursing homes and organizations no longer able to provide the extras — let alone the essentials in major cities and small towns alike.
You may not get to see a young mother open a box of items for her newborn, or witness the smile on the face of a woman who receives a slightly used dress so that she can go to a job interview — but your heart will.


About the Author

Marilyn Jones has been a journalist for more than 30 years and is currently a freelance feature writer specializing in travel. Her articles have appeared in major newspapers including the BostonGlobe, Akron Beacon Journal and Chicago Sun-Times as well as regional travel magazines.

Visit her website at