A few years ago I became a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union. A small donation netted me a membership card, an occasional newsletter and all the self-satisfaction that five dollars a year in annual dues can buy. It also brought me junk mail.
A lot of it. Tons
Almost immediately thereafter I was bombarded by inquiries and informational packets from what seemed like a million charitable organizations. Pleas to send cash immediately to every corner of the world for a litany of worthy causes- among them money for genocide victims in Darfur, Ninth Ward residents broadsided by Hurricane Katrina and starving orphans in eastern Europe. I was also now penpals with a litany of grass roots efforts, political campaigns and lobbyist groups. Within a month my mailbox became an endless source of horror stories, rally cries and guilt-trips. Some packets came with photos of nightmarish maladies while others included pleas on Bill Clinton's letterhead or small presents specifically designed to send me hunting for my checkbook.
Now I'm not a rich blogger. My day job consists of working on the bottom rung of a corporate gulag. While I'd like to send fistfuls of dollars to these causes, I can't. So, in an effort to silence my nagging conscience, I've decided to promote a few of them here.
Now then, are you in the market for stickers, address labels and/or prayer cards? Then just join the ACLU
or fire off an email to the following individuals and organizations. Here's what will most likely land in your mailbox within a few weeks.
The Dalai Lama
Cause: A free Tibet.
Wants: $, volunteers to send out postcards to Congresspeople.
Free stuff: Tibetan prayer flags, greeting cards, a letter on the Dalai Lama's letterhead.
Causes: Keeping abortion legal, keeping birth control pills in pharmacies, preventing buns from landing in teenage girls' ovens.
Wants: $, volunteers to send out "letters of objection" to Target and Wal-Mart.
Free stuff: A "keep abortion legal!" sticker.
Author Toni Morrison, on behalf of the Southern Poverty Law Center
Cause: Action against hate groups.
Wants: $, names to add to the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery, Alabama.
Free stuff: A certificate of appreciation, address labels.
The Sierra Club
Cause: Protection of old growth in the Sequoia National Forest.
Free stuff: Numerous paper products including: a calendar, a large pamphlet and a membership card. Also: a window decal with a hiker logo.
The Nature Conservancy
Cause: Protection of the black-crowned night heron (a freaky-looking bird , IMHO).
Free: Heron-themed address labels and a pamphlet filled with dozens of heron photos. A $25 donation earns members a heron tote bag sure to haunt the nightmares of passing school kids.
People for the American Way
Cause: For Bush, the religious right and "the powers that be" to go away.
Wants: $ to buy commercial airtime.
Free: A Supreme Court flowchart explaining which justices are ardent Bush fans.
The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation
Cause: Support for stem cell research.
Free: Pleas from Bill Clinton, the Kennedys and Christopher Reeve written on each's letterhead. First Reeve overcomes a tragic injury, now death to promote stem cell research. Now that takes dedication.
It's been fun, ACLU. I wonder what sort of junk mail would be sent my way if I join the NRA. Do conservative causes send out better swag than liberal ones?
Labels: ACLU, guilt, politics, trips