A Year of Inspired Giving – April/December

Plans are a lot like first drafts. We think we have them pretty well figured out, and they still manage to go off the rails. Whether it’s rogue characters, unexpected plot holes, or global pandemics, all too often we’re at the mercy of fate. Turns out, fate doesn’t much care about your carefully crafted plans.

At the beginning of this year, I set out to donate to one fundraiser a month, each one catered to a single character featured in the Panagea Tales series. January, February, and March went off without a hitch (and you can find the organizations I donated to in my previous blog posts) but then April came along, and tattoo shops across the United States were shut down to prevent the spread of coronavirus. (For those of you who don’t know, tattooing is my career; for as much as I love writing, I’ve never made ‘life changing’ money.)

With no end in sight as to when I could return to work, our budget got a lot tighter. Tighter budgets meant donations had to take a sad backseat to things like mortgage payments and groceries. In April, I saw my promise of ‘an inspired year of giving’ fall to bits and pieces. To say it was a disappointment is an understatement. Follow-through is a sentiment I hold dear, and abandoning my plans broke my heart.

Fortunately, things don’t stay bad forever.

I returned to work on May 26. I built up lost income. I’ve never been a rich woman; I live simply, so things weren’t as detrimental for me as they have been for some. In September, an opportunity arose to participate in a fundraiser. It ticked a lot of my favorite boxes (the proceeds went to the Oshkosh Humane Society and Kiwanis Club, hooray for animals and children!) and the individual fundraisers got to campaign a pet to see who could raise the most (while the top ten lucky winners would be featured on a beer can by Fifth Ward Brewing company).

It made the most sense to campaign my bestest boy: Cade. He passed away three years ago from lymphoma, but I loved that dog with every piece of my soul.

Unfortunately, in hard times, people don’t just donate money all willy-nilly. The solution? Art! ‘Thank you for donating’ pet portraits offered to anyone who donated a minimum of $25!

I’m going to make a long story short … things took off. I blinked and had 260 pet portraits waiting for me to paint. Glossing over how time-consuming that would be, I rolled up my sleeves, poured out my paint, and got to it. Two months later, I crossed the finish line.

Raising funds for the New Top Dog fundraiser began in mid-September for me, and even though the fundraiser ended in mid-October, it ended for me mid-November. Two months, 260 pet portraits, and $10,000 for the Oshkosh Humane Society and Kiwanis Club … with that, my big hurrah to raise money in Cade’s memory has come to an end.

I remember sitting at the kitchen counter wondering if I should take as many portraits as I could get. I remember thinking, “This is going to take months of my life. Hours away from my family, and the cost of supplies. This is going to be HARD …” And then I thought, “So what?”

I have been moved by people who donated FAR more than I asked. People gave money for supplies, and a lovely young woman donated heaps of the watercolor paper I used for this project. I may have been the one doing the paintings, but this was a group effort if ever there was one, and I’m glad it happened in 2020. We needed it this year. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who donated.

In the end, my inspired year of giving may not have gone exactly as I planned … but I gave far more than I intended when it first began. For that, I’m going to call this one a success.

Have a wonderful holiday season, friends! Stay safe out there!

-McK.

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