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Back to school time starts it off. Every where you turn people, places, organizations are collecting school supplies for kids who would otherwise have none. So me, understanding what it feels like to go to school with little or no supplies, grabs a few things every time I go to Target (which by my Quicken register is at least 3x per week). That's in addition to the items I purposefully purchase to fill a backpack or the donation box at work.

Just as the school supply needs die down (they never really go away) we begin our charitable giving campaign at work. I volunteer, I chair, I participate because I see the need in our community. Numerous hours are spent asking, coordinating and donating as many of the agencies we raise money for are dependent on our corporate campaign to survive. If I don't do my part, they may not exist. This campaign lasts not just weeks but months. When its finished, there is a sense of accomplishment and desire to do an even better job next year.

Now its the holidays and while I see need in the community, I'm worn out. So this year I decide that I'm limiting my donations to those causes that are dearest to my heart. I decide to focus on three different activities: adopting a family from the Angel Tree, stuffing stockings for those who seldom receive gifts and donating food to the local food pantry. Unfortunately, my plans to limit my donations are not the plans of others.

My child's classroom is adopting a family and yes, the sign-up sheet is publicly posted on the door for all to see. How can she have the only parents who don't contribute? So, I donate to this family as well. Next, a person I don't know but is part of a group I'm involved in is experiencing hard times and needs help with providing meals for her family. I've always been told you take care of your own so of course I'm going to contribute. Do I want to add a dollar to my grocery bill for XYZ organization? Sure, its just a dollar.

All of this leads to my donation fatigue. If anyone asks me for a donation after Christmas, I cringe. I avoid and ignore and eventually people quit asking. Its not that I don't want to help because if I had the resources I would, but because if I continue to constantly be asked for donations I will become resentful. I won't donate and that's not the person I am. However, I need the break even though the needs of the community continue to exist.

So if you ask me to add a dollar or to make a donation, please don't be offended if I say no. I already feel guilty for saying it. Just realize that I've done my part. I've made my contributions. Allow me the time to take a break. It gives me time to reflect on my donations and makes me want to do even more next year.

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