Even though I was uncomfortable with the idea, I filled out a registry before I got married. I created one for my first pregnancy as well. I succumbed to the pressure because I realized that it made life a lot easier for people who were going to buy something to celebrate the nuptials and procreation anyway. And despite having lived in truly Southern Brooklyn, where an envelope of cash really was the best gift, I always appreciated when a friend had a registry so that I could feel like I was still giving a THING, even though it was practically the equivalent of a gift certificate to the chosen store. That’s why, when I procrastinate so long that only two water glasses and an assortment of kitchen gadgets were left, I felt just fine about checking off all those boxes…The couple really wanted them. Mostly.
Today I came across a registry that is pretty much the most amazing way to purchase from a list that I’ve seen. DonorsChoose is excellent, but anyone who’s been in teaching knows that supplies aren’t needed as much as fulfilling the basic needs of individual students, something that teachers and schools can’t always do. That’s why I’m so grateful to GOOD for sharing a wonderful site with me: The Camellia Network, a new nonprofit social network designed to help people in the foster system transition from foster child to thriving adult. Basically, participants can purchase things like desk lamps, laundry baskets, area rugs, and other items seen as luxuries to some, to make life cozier for former foster children.
It’s hard enough to leave home for college for middle class teens. But for the nearly 30,000 foster kids who are thrust into adulthood each year, the transition to grown-up can be a tumultuously critical time. When a foster child turns 18 or 21 (different states have different caps) they lose the protections of the state system and get booted out of their homes, often with no support or resources to help set up life as an adult.
A quarter of kids who age out end up homeless within two years or incarcerated, according to figures provided by the Camellia Network. Sixty percent of them have children of their own, who are then twice as likely to end up in foster care themselves.
“It’s this horrible cyclical pattern that, I think, a lot of people aren’t aware of,” says Isis Keigwin CEO and Co-Founder of the Camellia Network, launched in September.
When it comes to gift-giving, there are lots of charitable options. In fact, I recently wrote about coming-to-terms with the extravagance of ordering in when other’s can’t afford groceries. (Our tally for the month was well over $200! Ack!) Here’s one more that can directly impact a young person’s esteem as well as ability to get started successfully. Check them out and consider becoming a contributor to The Camellia Network. Even a small purchase has both a physical (laptop sleeve and suitcase, anyone?) and emotional impact. How cool is it that a stranger wants to buy diapers for a new mom? Some of the registries have things like vegetable peelers, sheets, scales, a set of bath towels – the kinds of things that parents might buy for a child going off to college or getting his first apartment. Many of these kids don’t have that safety net. And that’s where The Camellia Network comes in. You can learn more about the amazing women who began this project and have built it up on their site and also here: The Momastery.
I bet it would make an awesome gift for any number of your friends to know that you thought of them while thinking about helping others. Just sayin’.