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Haiti and Retailers-Ideas from a Consumer

Photo courtesy The Huffington Post

I spent several hours on Saturday purchasing items for Haiti victims.  And while I know that U.S. pharmaceutical companies have given $25mil, and stores like WalMart, Home Depot, and Target have made cash donations ($600k, $1mil, and $500k respectively), I  am surprised at the lack of “big picture” thinking on the part of many national retailers in how they can help Haiti victims with actual goods, as much as through financial donations (and let’s be honest, the dollars given so far are small for these huge corporations).

As I was driving home with items purchased to take to CrossPoint on Sunday, I began to daydream about what I’d do if I ran these companies. This list isn’t exhaustive, as there are surely companies/industries I’m leaving out.  But I’m reaching out to these companies to pass along suggestions.  If you know people in high places at retail, I hope you’ll do the same.

Walmart, Sam’s, Target, Costco, Meijers, KMart-Why not create sections in the store with the big needs (tarps, tents, water, flashlights, formula, basic medical supplies, etc.) and make them easy for people to find and purchase? A step further-why not create bins for those purchased items to be placed into and ship them to Haiti?  You definitely have the resources to make this a possibility.

Sears, JCPenney, Belk, Macy’s, Dillard’s-Why not send several containers full of blankets, sheets, pillows, clothes, and shoes? Everywhere I looked today, there were sales happening, so it’s obvious there’s excess inventory.  I see a really good use for it right now.

Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menard’s-Why not offer to help cover the cost of contractors who come into your stores everyday to get over to Haiti to help with building removal, search & rescue, etc.  I’m sure many many want to help, but haven’t a clue how to get started.  Also, why not commit to sending a carrier full of tools when the removal process begins? Having Eko Depot in Haiti, it’s safe to assume a process for getting materials there is already set.

National grocery store chains-water, formula, baby food, diapers, cleaners, prepacked meals and more are of top need right now.  Again, why not make it easy for consumers to purchase them for shipment to Haiti, as well as sending over shipments of them from you directly? I’ve seen Publix and Kroger’s both do this well during the holidays for those in need. 

Looking at the nonstop pictures, it’s clear that there are many, many people and agencies jumping in to help during this time of crisis.  This level of destruction is going to take marathon mentality, not sprinter thinking.  We need to be in it for the long haul. Which national companies will set the pace for grand-scale efforts to make a difference?

The cost of stepping up and doing the right thing: Expensive

The benefits of long-term loyalty built when retailers do the right thing: Priceless

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Taking a Leap of Faith

 

Anne Jackson, radical thinker extraordinaire, wrote an honest, powerful post yesterday on her upcoming trip to Haiti.  She said people had emailed her to say they were jealous that she’s going.  While I’m not jealous, because I know that what she’ll see and feel when she’s there will be gutwrenching, I am  a bit sad. Because I’ve felt the desire to do more than just send money and donate items.  I want to get my hands dirty. 

The tragedy in Haiti is another signal that my life is beginning to make clear the fact that some choices I made in younger years—and those I continue to make—are impeding the course I’m supposed to be charting now.  But there are responsibilities—a mortgage, car payment, insurances, private school tuition—things it’s not easy to pack up and walk away from.  Still, I know there’s a growing passion for a major shift in where I am now.  I would have done it already, were it not for the requirement of stability my life demands. 

Lately, I’ve been waiting on God to show me just how this equation is going to work out.  I’ll admit, I’ve rarely been one to make radical shifts in my personal life.  Ironically, it’s one of the things I love most about my job-every step in marketing has some measure of faith involved, but when it comes to my own life, I have looked for the safer ground, the “small ways” to be serve and be faithful.  Those things are good and necessary because they teach us obedience and patience, but I feel something different around the corner.   I don’t know what’s next, but I know it will take a leap of faith.

These days, I’m walking with purpose and listening more closely.  Because my future is calling.

What about you?  Where do you feel the pull to take a leap of faith?

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Knowing When to Hit “Pause”

Hitting Pause

Hitting Pause

The two-week break over Christmas gave me some wonderful time to think about my life-plan, bond with my family and friends, and look ahead to what I want to do better in 2010.   And even as I walked back into the office on Monday, I noticed how much more laid back, happy, and inspired people were.  Why don’t we do a better job of making rest time a priority? 

Here are a few of my biggest takeaways from that time off: 

  1. Making good memories is easy-We didn’t have to take a lavish vacation to make some great memories this year.  Almost totally unplugging (there’s always room for improvement) and really focusing on family activities made the time pass too quickly, but offered some great events we’ll cherish for years to come.
  2. Saying “No” must happen sometimes-It’s easy to get overextended and allow that rat-race pattern to become routine.  Breaking away from some of the commitments really frees us up to be creative and at peace.
  3. We have to stop trying to be like others-This blog is a perfect example.  I wasn’t born to keep a blog updated-it’s not my life’s work or passion.  I got into it because I saw people I respect doing it and thought I needed to follow their path. But what comes easy for some becomes a burden to others.  I’m not going to post every day, or likely every three days.  Making peace with that fact has made blogging enjoyable again.  There are  areas in each of our lives where we must manage our own expectations and do what feeds our own souls.
  4. If we don’t like our lives, it’s our job to change it-Being passionate about our work, crazy about the people we are around, and happy with how we spend our downtime is our responsibility.  The Lord gave us a chance at eternal life, and the Bible gives us a great tool for navigation.  But no person, job, friend, or gadget will make the grass greener.  If life’s not going according to plan, we have to change it.
  5. Things don’t have to be perfect-Sounds simple, but some of us struggle with perfectionism.  Keeping a perfect house has become less important to me than making sure there’s quality family time.   And by reminding myself of these five points even now, I can truly appreciate the life I have.  It’s messy sometimes, but I’d have it no other way.

What revelations have come to you when you step out of the fast lane?

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Holiday Gift Suggestions

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Oren Arnold, a writer and newspaperman, beautifully captured the sentiment of gift-giving at this time of year in the quote below :

“To your enemy, forgiveness.  To an opponent, tolerance.  To a friend, your heart.  To a customer, service.  To all, charity.  To every child, a good example.  To yourself, respect.”

There’s a sense of wonder in the air.  The anticipation is almost palpable as we count down the days.  And opportunities to invest in the lives of others await around every corner.

Which of these gifts are you giving this Christmas?

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