My Not-So-Funny Valentine
Every year around this time, I think about the worst Valentine’s Day present I ever received. A certain spouse, who shall remain nameless, once gave me a vacuum cleaner to express his true love.
He claims I told him that’s what I wanted (unlikely) and that he thought it would be okay since the vacuum was red. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t. So I thanked him, put the vacuum in the closet and drove to the story and bought my own darn chocolates. The next year, there were flowers – much better.)
This year, as I was reminding the aforementioned spouse that Valentine’s Day was coming, and perhaps poking a little fun about his previous misstep, I was thinking of how sometimes even the gifts we give with the best of intentions really miss the mark.
In fact, this happens all the time in disaster relief, especially when it comes to collection drives.
You know the deal: Individuals and organizations hear about a crisis and spring into action, asking people to donate various items to help survivors. And people respond by contributing lots and lots of these items.
Unfortunately, the items collected frequently miss the mark: Winter coats following summer hurricanes in Florida, bags of used clothing and toys that are too shabby for anyone to use, food that’s well past its expiration date . . . well, you get the idea.
All of these are real-life stories of items that have been donated to disaster survivors – and that are about as welcome at disaster sites as my Valentine’s Day Shopvac.
Why? Because whenever a collection drive happens, someone on the receiving end has to deal with its corresponding supply chain demands – including
- Sorting through all of these donations,
- Retrieving and repackaging the good stuff
- Tossing away the expired or unusable stuff
- Finding a way to get the remainder to the disaster site
- And then figuring out how to receive, store and distribute these donations once they’ve arrived
All when they’re really kind of busy trying to save lives and get more urgently needed items to first responders, shelters and other relief centers.
Thankfully ALAN and our partners have the antidote for this.
Before we agree to help with any relief effort, we check in with our non-profit partners to make sure there’s a viable distribution plan in place – and that the items in question are things that disaster survivors can truly use. After all, almost getting supplies like food, water, PPE or hand-sanitizer to disaster sites isn’t enough. And neither is getting some kinds of items (like clothing, furniture or lighting) delivered too soon.
Which is why you can be sure that every case you see on ALAN’s Disaster Micro-site truly involves something that disasters survivors really want and need right now.
So if you’re looking for a way to really spread the love this Valentine’s Day (and to be part of a group of donors that we celebrate on our own favorite holiday, #ALANtine’s Day), check that Disaster Micro-site out. Even now, it has lots of request for helpful gifts that our non-profit trusted partners truly need in order to help people who are recovering from last year’s hurricanes, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Or, if you’d prefer to give something equally useful, why not consider becoming one of the many wonderful financial sponsors who ensure that ALAN always has the resources we need to pull it all together?
So, as we celebrate this season of cupids bows, candy hearts, and (lots and lots of) chocolate, we hope you get something better than a household appliance or a card with knock-knock jokes (something one of our team-members received, despite expecting something a little more sparkly; surprisingly she later married the guy anyway).
As for our gift this year, like always, we’ll be working to deliver the good stuff to those who need it.
P.S. Some of you may be reading this because you got a good old-fashioned Valentine’s Day card from us. While these cards may seem a little silly, the sentiment is sincere. We really do love our donors, in-kind supporters, and all of our ALAN family and friends. THANK YOU and Happy ALANtine’s Day!