This is the time of year when my college does its Combined Charities Campaign and I have to decide which charities I'll donate to over the next year.
There's a booklet that lists hundreds of eligible charities. It's funny to me all the different ways you can define "charity" by flipping through the book.
- There's the traditional sense of giving to those less fortunate than you. Organizations that fight against hunger, disease, homelessness, and child abuse, for example, are pretty straightforward. I don't think there's much controversy about donating money to help starving abused homeless children with AIDS.
- And then there are the partisan charities. Organizations that diametrically oppose each other. For example, I could contribute to gay rights organizations or Christian organizations (ahem, the Mormon Church) that fight against those rights. Planned Parenthood vs. Catholic Charities. Is it really "charity" that I'm doing if someone else is funneling just as much money into stopping my cause?
- There are charities that support jazz, dance, art centers, zoos, gardens, museums, even public radio and TV. I don't have a problem with supporting these things, but it's hard for me to call a donation to public radio "charity." For me, it's more like supporting something that I enjoy.
While I was looking at my options, scanning things about AIDS, cancer, animal rights, hunger, conservation, adoption, autism, and food banks, one cause jumped out at me: restless leg syndrome.
Are you kidding me?
For all I know, it may be a serious and debilitating condition, but of all the hundreds of ways to donate my money, you want me to consider something that sounds like an affliction from a Monty Python skit?
Oh, Restless Leg Syndrome, do you have any idea what you're up against?