No Good Deed

No good deed goes unpunished says the adage and once again I’m finding it to be the case as I try to volunteer with my children’s nursery school charity committee. Last year I met the seemingly bubbly and friendly head of the committee and offered to be her co chair at a class cocktail party. She must have had an extra glass of the cheap white wine as later that night she promised the position to another mom.

Last year I lobbied to coordinate a food drive at the school, one of those old fashioned drop off your about to expire can of beans you’ll never use to help a hungry neighbor. My own building had all but banished my drive to a sign by the mailboxes courtesy of the grumpy co-op condo president, the same gentleman who reported me to the police for letting my children play in the hallway.

I exchanged emails with the charity committee who basically nixed my idea for a variety of lame reasons. I cc’d my friend and other co-chair for a reality check, was I so out of line suggesting I make a sign and put a box in the lobby at the bare minimum? She agreed the other woman was being unreasonable but opted to refrain from the discussion.

So this year, I popped into the charity meeting hoping to participate in a meaningful way. One mom brought up the food drive hoping it would complement the bake sale and the same co-chair thought it was a *brilliant* idea. So I introduced a new charity I recently discovered, Soles for Souls. All of the volunteers at the meeting agreed they had spare shoes in their home they would happily donate.

The conversation in the group evolved into petty details and with a mountain of things I should have been attending to, I excused myself but agreed to volunteer later. An email exchange later, the Soles for Souls idea was completely scrapped (but I am allowed to make a sign for the PTA board) but collecting money for Unicef was still on the table. Not that I’m against that charity but I think more people are inclined to clean out their closets then dig for coins in their couch cushions, and children could likely learn and appreciate more by donating something physical versus money.

But during those recent emails I wanted to show good faith so I asked where they might need help for the upcoming Pajama Drive and somehow got involved with decorating boxes, which I’m now learning I only have one day to do, the same day that I am leaving town early with my kids. I feel guilty backing out now, as I do not want to appear that my goodwill was only to gain traction for charities that interest me. But I do not want to sacrifice my plans to tape together cardboard boxes, and do they really need to look attractive? Through an unnecessary amount of emails I will tape boxes in the morning that will be decorated by other mom’s in the afternoon.

I remember a Dharma and Greg episode when the free spirited Dharma was running for office and volunteers were delegated responsibilities by drawing straws. Her lawyer husband was assigned the task of affixing postage to letters while the Mexican speaking housekeeper picked speech writing. I feel very similar. I would like to do something significant and motivate our already passionate community to help others while contributing my time in an efficient and meaningful way. Perhaps next year when the co-chair’s children have graduated, I can be head and run the committee as I see fit. Or perhaps I will be overwhelmingly busy with three kids and resigned to the status quo, or even still I could spearhead the charity committee at my daughter’s new school, whatever that may be.

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