Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Giving Tuesday, blah blah blah

I'm cynical about this Giving Tuesday stuff.

We only give this one day a year?
For what it's worth, I'm also not a fan of Black Friday or Cyber Monday. I'm okay with Small Business Saturday, but mostly only because some of the people with small businesses around here are my friends.

When you live in a small town you quite often know the people on the other side of the counter, and they you, and if you like their business you want it to stick around.

I recognize the privilege in my constant willingness to ignore Black Friday. The amount of money I'd save isn't worth the hassle to me. That's nice for me. But anyway, I'm cynical about the whole thing.

We usually decorate our Christmas tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We didn't this year. We had it tentatively scheduled for the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, before the children flew back to their current homes, but my husband wasn't feeling up for it--this knee replacement stuff is hard and painful--and none of the rest of us wanted to proceed without him, so now we're decorating the tree on December 22nd, which is when the children come back (it's so fantastic that they both get to spend Thanksgiving AND Christmas with us still). We are not putting up little wreaths on all the dining room and kitchen windows. My allergies were so bad last year I declared it was time to ban indoor fresh fir, and I haven't yet found a source for fake small wreaths. Not that it matters as the husband isn't yet ambulatory. Likewise the garland on the bannister. Also the outdoor lights. I'll put up the Nativity sets soon, and get out the stockings, but on the whole it's a pared-down Christmas just as it was a pared-down Thanksgiving.

And that's fine. Thanksgiving was lovely. I could wish an easier recovery for my husband, but I'm grateful for, among other things, my work-at-home life that makes it easy for me to care for him. I'm grateful for our full first-floor bathroom that means he can shower without climbing stairs. I'm grateful for a lot of small things, and many big ones.

This morning I packed up bookplates to send out to the schools enrolled in the Appalachian Literacy Initiative. The first set of student-selected books are on their way to the classes, and the second set has been ordered. (We'll be a little quicker next year--we want the first set arriving by the end of October. But this is our pilot year, we're still figuring things out.) We had stickers made that read, "This book is a gift from Appalachian Literacy Initiative, and now belongs to:" and then there's a line for the student to write their name. I got extremely pleased as I went along, because--I need to order more stickers. I got a great deal on them online, and remember wondering how many I should buy, but this was before any of the schools had applied. I was vaguely hoping we'd be able to enroll 20 classrooms--the board thought that was overly optimistic--so I bought 2000 bookplates. In the end we enrolled 28 classrooms from 40 applications. 675 students x 2 books so far = 1350 books. Then 16 classroom books so far x 28 classrooms = 448 books. That's almost 1800 stickers.

1800 books.

To finish out the program for the rest of the year will take another 1686 stickers and books.

I am so loving this math.

I know I keep asking for money on this blog, and here I am doing it again, because after all it is GIVING TUESDAY. I'm practically obligated, right?

Here's the thing: our 501(c)3 status hasn't been granted yet. We registered as a non-profit in the state of Tennessee last March. We created a board, voted and approved our articles of incorporation and other legal bits, and filed for status with the IRS in early June. It was a big honking application and I was proud of completing it. On June 25, I got an official IRS letter saying they'd received my application.

And there we sit. There's no problem of which I am aware. Last week I got a tich frustrated and called the IRS and rattled off all our official numbers, and was told that we had not yet been assigned an agent, which as far as I could tell after further questioning meant that no one had done a damn thing. "It has not yet been 180 days," the IRS agent told me, indignantly.

OK. 180 days will be Christmas, and want I really want this year is tax-exempt status for ALI so we can apply for all these grants I've researched and learned about, and all the corporate-matching funds people offer me, and so I can approach publishers who don't have strong reason to love me (my own publisher, who does, has made a generous donation.) Right at this moment we're having to rely on personal donations--and when we do get our status it will apply retroactively to March 2018, our date of incorporation, so yes, your gifts should be tax-deductible, they just aren't yet--and people have been amazing, I swear they have, and I'm so grateful,

But you know, it's Giving Tuesday. Maybe you'd like to give a book to a kid who's never owned one before. Maybe you are buying books for kids in your own life, whom you love, and while you're at it you'll buy one for this kid--this fourth-grade girl in Leon, West Virginia, or the boy in Berea, Kentucky, who never saw themselves as readers because they honestly had nothing to read. Because their teachers are trying to build classroom libraries from books they find at Goodwill. Because the dollar books from Scholastic Book Fair look like leftovers, and when you're a poor kid you're sick of getting stuck with leftovers all the time.

You've got a thousand places to put your money. I know that. I don't even like Giving Tuesday. But maybe you do. And maybe ALI is something you'd like to support.

If you’d like to support the work that we’re doing, you can mail a check to Appalachian Literacy Initiative at PO Box 3283, Bristol, TN 37625, or click here to purchase books on our wishlist from Parnassus Books, our preferred bookstore. You’ll receive 10% off with the code GIVEREADING, and Parnassus will ship the books to us free of charge. You can also purchase books from our Amazon wishlist by clicking here

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