The Spirit of the Snark

The Snark Zone: Letters From the Editors
Stephanie “Baker” Lenz


We rushed home from a weekend away this Halloween. In our first Halloween in the neighborhood, I didn’t want to be pegged as “one of those houses” that doesn’t give away candy. I got our cemetery set up, the lights lit, my costume on and a cauldron full of Kit Kats, M&Ms and Hershey bars ready to go. Half an hour after trick-or-treat began, we got our first kids. By the end of the two hours, I had barely given away the Kit-Kats, and I’d given them out in handfuls.

For a couple of weeks, I worried about possibilities from, “Is Halloween on the wane?” to “Is our neighborhood too dark?” Then it dawned on me: I assumed that kids would want to come to this neighborhood because it’s zoned in the country club area. I assumed that people here would hand out lots of the good stuff. In truth, the kids went elsewhere because the neighborhood not only refrained from passing out full-size Snickers but turned off its lights and hid.

I was never raised to be generous. In fact, I was taught to believe that you hang onto every penny and every possession and that the pharaohs had the right idea about taking it with you. I learned about generosity when I started working and had money to give. I checked the United Way box on my wage form. I figured I’d never miss it.

When I was most down on my financial luck, giving up meals so I could have gas money to get to work, I scraped together enough money to donate a toy to Toys For Tots. Then I had a small windfall of financial luck. So I donated some more and had the same result. This financial karma made me a giver; the more I gave away, the more I had to give. It was amazing.

In the last few years, I’ve given time and money when I could, almost exclusively on a local level. I’ve cleaned out my closet for women’s shelters and made food to feed volunteers. We’ve sponsored homeless and underprivileged children at Christmas and back-to-school time. Most of our giving is done anonymously but I tell people about these opportunities to enrich the community in hope that they will do the same.

To defray our running costs, Toasted Cheese accepts donations and this year we were blessed with a very generous donation from one of our editors . In lieu of donating to TC this holiday season, we hope that you will pass on this generosity and consider sending a small donation to Heifer International.

Like TC, Heifer International provides the tools and means for people to create using thier own talents. Instead of giving a bushel of wool or a bundle of meat, Heifer International provides animals to people throughout the world. The recipients then harvest wool, fur, meat, honey, etc. from the animals. They also breed their animals and pass the offspring along to other communities, lengthening the giving chain. You can learn more about what they do at their website.

If you would like to join other TC members in contributing as little as $2 toward a group donation, you can do so via our regular Paypal link. Just put in the comment section “heifer.org” and we will earmark your donation. At the end of December, we will announce what our community has donated to Heifer International.

If you would like to encourage donations in lieu of gifts, you can visit WhatGoesAround.org and create a “Give List” to share with friends and family. Instead of letting her give you another pair of slipper-socks, let Aunt Mildred know what charities are close to your heart.

On behalf of our editors here at Toasted Cheese, I encourage you to be generous with your time, your happiness and your love this holiday season. I hope this generosity returns to you throughout 2005.

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E-mail: baker[at]toasted-cheese.com.

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