An Easy Way to Do Good in Your Neighborhood

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Years ago, when I lived on a block with very new mothers, some of us decided to form a neighborhood bridge group. We were all terrible card players, but that really wasn’t the point. Meeting once a month was a way to get together, to talk about families, schools, neighborhood stuff. Some of us were friends outside of the bridge group, but not all of us were.

When we started, we talked about playing for money – small sums – a few dollars – just to spice up the game. But our score-keeping was haphazard; and, truth be told, we talked a lot more than we played cards. I got the idea of everyone just kicking in a couple of dollars when we met. Then we could give the money to charity. Somehow I became the official treasurer. I still keep the money in the same black make-up case that was in my purse the first night I collected money – has it been twenty years ago?

Eventually, we moved up from putting in three dollars to five. There are eight women who attend bridge club; so every month that’s forty dollars – give or take for who forgets, who has a ten dollar bill and doesn’t want change. Each month I write down whose house we played at that month and how much is in the kitty. The women decided when we first started that the donations would remain local and even personal (someone who knew someone who needed help) — that is, not a traditional charity. Every few months, I give a treasurer’s report. About twice a year we decide in a fairly random way, who to give the money to.

Here’s a sample of what my neighborhood bridge group has contributed to over the years:

  • $100 to the local homeless shelter
  • $110 to a family flooded out of their apartment
  • $200 to a family who were victims of a violent crime
  • $110 for a refugee family
  • $135 to the local food pantry
  • $105 to a single mom studying for her GED
  • $140 to the local battered women’s shelter

Now we’ve been meeting for decades. Some us have moved out of the neighborhood and must drive across town for bridge. A few have moved out of state, and we’ve incorporated new members. Our bridge playing skills have not improved much.

All across this country there are people who contribute both time and money to needy causes. There are also groups of women who meet for fun: in book groups, bridge and canasta groups, gardening clubs. Collecting a small fee at the beginning of every meeting is an easy way to do good.

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