Monday, October 01, 2007

Sew On and Sew Forth

December will be my month to spend $200 on goods or services to help someone else. It’s not a lot of money, but it could make a difference.

Our Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) group met last night for the first time to talk about how this is going to work. It turns out with 20 members and roughly $20 per person per month, we will be able to give each of 2 persons $200 per month to spend.

We talked a lot about the type of projects people want to take on. They ranged from giving money to someone struggling in the grocery line to buying uniforms for kids on a sports team to treating an elderly person to massage. Everyone has a slightly different take on RAK. The good news is we all agreed that when it’s your month, you can do whatever you want with the money, not needing any approval from the group.

We drew months out of a hat and I chose December, along with my neighbor Charlie. But his project will not be at all related to mine. We’re just co-spenders. It’s interesting that we are both Jewish, so we will not be distracted by Christmas shopping.

So what will I do? I want to do something that makes an investment in someone’s future. I at first thought of buying books for some of the children I will be reading to. Then someone reminded me that they are homeless and would probably not be able to carry a lot of things with them when they leave the shelter. Then I thought about music lessons for a promising student who could not otherwise afford lessons.

But finally I determined that what I really want to do is buy a sewing machine for a woman who needs one and can’t afford to buy it. I could also throw in free sewing lessons. I remember my mother giving the old Singer I learned to sew on to a similar woman who then made all of her daughter’s clothes. So, yes, this is what I want to do with my December money.

Someone at the meeting suggested that you really can’t save money over the price of clothes at say Old Navy. But I countered with the idea that you can save money if you buy remnants, sew for small children, and repair worn or torn clothes. You can make other things, like curtains, as well.

The next questions: How do I find a worthy recipient? Can I actually buy a good used sewing machine for $200?

I called G Street Fabrics this morning and spoke to someone named Austin. He apparently has a connection with someone who works with single moms in Northern Virginia. G Street “inherited” all the leftover fabric when an elderly quilter died. He has been doling it out to this person. He is sure she will be able to come up with someone who really needs a sewing machine.

The first sewing machine repair place I called said they had 2 machines: one for $150 and a second for $200. Either of them would fit nicely within my budget.

I’m excited to think this project may work. Sewing has brought me a lifetime of pleasure and I may have even saved a little money along the way. I really hope I can share this enjoyment with someone else.

So if you had the $200 to spend for the good of humanity or the world, what would you do with it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi barbara!

this sounds like a great group you've created - fun, creative and a service to those in need.

look. i have a perfectly wonderful brother's sewing machine - still in it's box WITH manual ... maybe used all of ... 4 times when i made the bedding for my first child ... so yes, it is 15 years old. But - it looks brand new and still runs like a dream.

if you pay for shipping - it's yours for nothing else. if you're interested, email me - the address is on my profile page.

good luck!


11:50 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Red -- As much as I would like to take you up on your offer, you too really need a sewing machine. If I lived closer to you, I would show you all the wonderful things you could do with it. You are incredibly generous!

I'm really looking forward to finding out what everyone does with the money. My husband is creating a web page for the group which I will share when it is operational.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

What a great idea and so (or should I say sew?) fitting with the spender. I cannot wait to watch how the charitable acts unfold.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- Although it in no way is a competition, it will be so interesting to see what people do with the money.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

It is nice to hear that people get to disburse the money as they see fit when it is their turn.

My mother used to sew a fair bit when we were younger.

I don't know what $200 could do. It would be nice to think it could change someone's life (for the better, naturally). But can it?

It would depend who I am disbursing the funds to. If it was a family with children (and I was disbursing in December, like you), I would probably focus on some food, possibly clothes and toys. But would the money go far enough?

In Peru (and probably other places), people form groups of 12 people who come together monthly and each put in a set amount (say $50) which is then randomly distributed to one of the members. This continues for a year until everyone has received his or her share. In practice, it works great for the first few people, but then, people start dropping out, or fail to show up (especially those who have already received their money). I tell Sofia, it would make more sense for each person to just put aside the money themselves each month and at the end of the year, they would have the money with no ill feelings.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

This idea is absolutely "tailor" made for you, pardon the play on words!
I'd have to think on this one, I'd do the food thing with a few shopping/recipe tips or perhaps a little outing for the kids somewhere that they'd not normally get to see...a movie, a tourist site, the CN Tower.

I agree with Richard on the Peru situation.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Ruth D~ said...

What a fantastic idea. You'll make such a difference in someone's life. What a great thing to do. Keep us posted. Love the title to this post.

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bless your hearts!!
I would call the local
food bank and see what they
needed the most, and
buy it for them.
But that is just me.

kay lee

6:27 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

The sewing machine is a wonderful idea, as would be any reliable used appliance - someone found me a small, sink-hookup clothes washer for $25. It has saved me lots of $ formerly spent at the laundromat. For a woman who can and likes to sew, that machine will be a godsend.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- I want to do something a little more lasting than food or toys or even clothes. Maybe that's selfish on my part.

The Peruvian approach is just another way to save money. I agree with you that it would be a lot simpler just to do your own saving every month.

MOI -- I do like the idea of introducing kids to something they might not otherwise see -- maybe even a play or a concert geared to kids. In December I know the NSO has a very reasonable concert for kids. First I would have to identify some kids to take.

RuthD -- I will definitely be reporting back!

Anon -- Thanks for the idea!

Pauline -- That was my thinking exactly. I was even thinking there might be a recent immigrant who knows how to sew but has no machine. I'm sure I can find the right person.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


no problem. there are many useful charities around my area. and shipping it could end up being more hassle than it is worth.

frankly, if i haven't used it in 15 years, i don't think i will be using it anytime in the near future ...

it IS a shame we don't live closer - i never took home ec .. ergo - i never learned how to appreciate the fight art of the sewing machine. though i do enjoy needle work ....


2:44 PM  

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