Give until it feels good

It’s usually around this time of year, these weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas that I widen my perspective a bit. Look at what I have. Forget about what I don’t have. Feel blessed with how good things are considering how very bad things could be.

I think a lot of people do that. You can’t have your family around you, putting ornaments on a tree or lighting candles or what not, and not look at them and go, “Lucky me.”

And that makes this a perfect time of year to give to the people who still might say “Lucky me!” while struggling to provide or obtain the necessities for living and happiness.

If you haven’t yet decided who might be worthy of your generous chairtable dollars this holiday season, I have two local organizations/drives that might be just the thing you were looking for:

1. 96.1 Stuff A Bus

Each year Mikey and Big Bob from 96.1 spend a week living in an RV in the Miracle Mile shopping center where they encourage Pittsburghers to swing by and drop off a new toy or two to be donated to the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots program. Some people show up with one toy, some with two or three and some stuff their cars with toys.

Last year Mikey and Bob stuffed just over 16 buses with toys, and due to the generous anonymous gift from a Burgher who handed them a $4,200 check and told them to go shopping for toys with it, this year promises to be the best yet.

Go to Target, Walmart, KMart, whatever, and buy some toys and take them down to Mikey and Big Bob at all hours of the day and night. Or if you prefer, check your local Walgreens for a big Stuff A Bus donation box and drop your toys in there.

An easy way to give a merry Christmas to a needy child.

2. Community Human Services

This is a local organization that I just love and was proud to support during their Rock the Streets event. CHS serves the area’s most needy families and individuals. They are trying to help 535 individuals or families during this holiday season by providing them each with a $25 gift. That’s not a number they just made up. That is how many Pittsburghers are requesting help.

You can help CHS in a few ways, but perhaps the easiest is by providing them with a gift card. A simple gift card!

I’ll let Sue Kerr explain why:

Many of the people we serve don’t often have the luxury of shopping for anything but the basics.  A gift card (which many request) gives them a gift AND the gift of the shopping trip.  It also gives us a chance to encourage them to socialize a bit, isolation being one of the biggest challenges for many of our program participants.

Any denomination is fine.  A $5 Subway gift card gives someone a chance to “go out” for lunch.   Giant Eagle has 140 different types of cards and we can use most of them.  But our top list would be:  Giant Eagle, Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Kohl’s.  For teens:  The Gap, Old Navy, Game Stop, Best Buy, Claire’s, Wet Seal.  Restaurants:  Eat n Park is the best for an affordable family meal, but also Applebee’s, Subway, McDonalds, and other places that are accessible by bus.  We can also use cards to drug stores like Rite-Aid.

The sad thing is that most of our adults asked for the everyday basics we take for granted – bathroom towels, shaving cream, a new pair of slippers … the gift card gives them the dignity of picking out their own towels.

An easy way to do it is through Giant Eagle’s gift card program, which will also earn you double fuel perks! Give and get!

Or just go buy a gift card and drop it in the mail:

Community Human Services

374 Lawn Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Attn:  Holiday Projects

So easy to do. Learn more here.

Do you ever do this? Are you ever behind someone in the grocery store and their shoes are torn and their face is drawn and they’re clearly watching the amount tick up and hoping they have the cash to pay for it? And they have a child with them? And you just say a quick prayer of blessing for them? I don’t mean to get religious on you, it’s just my habit when I encounter people who are clearly hurting for necessities. I can’t really afford to buy groceries for every person I see like that, and that hurts. If I was rich? Look out, world. But since I am not and maybe you aren’t either, this is a small way to throw your dollars in the pot to make a big impact on a lot of people like the ones who are counting their pennies at the check out line.

Pick one. Pick both. Go forth. Do good.


  1. jdstar3177
    November 30, 2010 4:40 pm

    Also, check your points with your bank or credit card! I just donated $100 in gift cards that I got free through PNC Points system. I save them up all year to make a donation.

  2. JenEngland
    November 30, 2010 6:18 pm

    I cry Every. Time. I read about CHS’s Christmas Card program. Every. Time. Thanks for highlighting it. This is fast becoming my favorite part of Christmas, picking several families with my kids and then filling their wishes. When I see Claire’s I think of my daughter. When I see request for GameStop I think of my son. When I see a request from a single adult struggling with mental illness ask for slippers or food, I think of another relative and think there but for the grace of God…

    Thank you. Thanks to everyone who donates.

  3. Sooska
    November 30, 2010 7:15 pm

    Thanks, Ginny. Sometimes we wonder how we can help the ones who need it most, especially this time of year, and don’t know where to begin. These ideas are most appreciated.

  4. Erica
    November 30, 2010 8:13 pm

    We are just getting our new website up and running but we really would love to any non-profit the oppourtunity to make some money without any investment. Visit us at We are Pittsburgh-based!

  5. Sis
    November 30, 2010 10:09 pm

    My friends and I ‘adopted’ families through Family Resources of Western PA.

    They provide names, ages and interests and we buy anonymously for the children of the family. It’s a great way to provide kids in need with gifts to open on Christmas morning.

    I was lucky enough to always have presents from Santa growing up and it’s an absolute joy to give that to others.

  6. Jenilkin
    November 30, 2010 11:20 pm

    So pumped to see the CHS promotion! Thanks!!!

  7. George
    December 1, 2010 12:32 pm

    Thanks Ginny for promoting CHS.

  8. unsatisfied
    December 1, 2010 1:17 pm

    uh, oh. fire early this morning at las velas:

  9. Concerned
    December 1, 2010 1:32 pm

    You’ve had a rough couple of weeks, Ginny. Hang in there – please update us and let us know if you need anything.

  10. Sue Kerr
    December 1, 2010 2:54 pm

    Ginny, I hope the situation with the fire isn’t as dire as it sounds. We are praying for you and the employees.

    Thank you for posting about CHS’ projects. We are able to take donations right up to Christmas Day as people come into programs all the time. Your support is wonderful and much appreciated. I hope good karma comes back to you soon for all the good things you do. CHS is lucky to count you as a supporter and partner.

    As of today, I have 38 families and 90 individuals without holiday gifts. I hope together we can lower those numbers.

    Thank you and wishing the best for you right now.

  11. Elmer Fudd
    December 1, 2010 2:54 pm

    Sorry to hear about the Restaurant and the car Ginny..I hope things start getting better for you pretty soon..

  12. km
    December 1, 2010 2:55 pm

    So sorry to hear about the fire… all of you at Las Velas are in my thoughts and prayers.

  13. Mike
    December 1, 2010 4:45 pm

    Saw your tweets, sorry to hear about the restaurant. You, your family and your work family will be in my thoughts.

  14. lovesthenorthside
    December 1, 2010 5:17 pm

    so sorry about the fire…we are thinking of you, your family and employees. if there is anything we, your readers, can do to help, let us know.

  15. Bulldog
    December 1, 2010 6:44 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about the fire at Las Velas. I’ll be keeping you and your entire restataunt “family” in my prayers. Stay strong, and I know you’ll all come through this.

  16. debbiebear51
    December 1, 2010 7:21 pm


    I was so sorry to hear about the fire. Just know that all of us are praying for all of you…when God closes a door, He opens a window. Let us know what we can do to help you and your family get through this. Love and prayers!!!

  17. jules
    December 1, 2010 7:35 pm

    So upset to hear about the fire! You and everyone at las velas are in my prayers.

  18. Clementine
    December 1, 2010 8:00 pm

    Sorry to hear the news… best wishes for a speedy re-opening!

  19. bucdaddy
    December 1, 2010 9:01 pm

    Look forward to dining at Las Velas for the first time after your grand reopening.

  20. John Franco
    December 1, 2010 9:08 pm

    In all seriousness, Ginny, you do so much for everyone else. I am really sad to hear about the restaurant and have you in my thoughts. If there is anything we can do to help, please get the word out. There’s a great community of people who love to help people (which you built) who would gladly help you for a change.

  21. NewBurgher
    December 2, 2010 12:26 am

    We will be there on the first night you re-open. We’re so sorry to hear of the fire, it must be heart breaking for you both. Hang in there, you will rebuild, and we’ll all be there to cheer you guys on. Like John Franco said, let us know if there is anything you need. Sometimes it’s just your turn to be the “receiver.”

  22. Dan (Not Onorato)
    December 2, 2010 8:48 am


    As the others have stated, hang in there and if we can do anything, let us know. Youre always here for us, we WILL be there for you. Keep us posted.

  23. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    December 2, 2010 5:37 pm

    Candles were lit at noon Mass for you and your family. Whatever you need, your peeps got your back. Just let us know.

  24. Old NorthSider
    December 2, 2010 7:43 pm

    No posts? No tweets? The silence is scary. Sending prayers and wishes of good fortune your way.

  25. PittsburghSmith
    December 8, 2010 5:45 pm

    Well, now that I know about CHS, I know where I’m donating for the holidays. Thanks!

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