Dear friends,

I have an idea. (I have a lot of those.) But this might be the best one yet. Actually, it’s much too good of an idea to be original to me, but I can’t say that anyone told me about it.  This involves online shopping and being a better neighbor. Also, it’s an excuse to upgrade to Amazon Prime.

So, our local shelters need things regularly – toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, tampons, socks, diapers – and we, the People of Good Intentions often know this and even remember it at the store from time to time, but lack the wherewithal to actually get it where it needs to go. Right? Please tell me I’m not the only one who has lugged around a few cans of beans in the trunk for two months before shamefully adding it to her own pantry.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Call your your nearby resource center, food pantry or woman’s shelter to find out what their top needs are and if UPS can deliver to their site. (It’s always a good idea to ask if you can help.)
  2. Log into Amazon Subscribe ‘n Save.
  3. Choose 1 or 50 items you’d like to regularly offer your friends and neighbors who lack necessary resources. Check the center’s website for a list of current or ongoing needs. Note:  Prime members get an additional percent off and I know how you love to get a good deal.
  4. Decide how often you want them to ship. You can buy in bulk and send just 2-3 times a year or keep it consistent and send monthly.
  5. Create a new monthly subscription for these items and ship them direct. If you’re local, consider Open Door Resource Center at 212 W. Wyandot Ave. Upper Sandusky, OH 43351.

Follow up with your site to make sure your helpfulness is actually meeting a need or if you need to change your contribution in any way. (Maybe they don’t need 83 toothbrushes a month but they’re constantly out of socks. You won’t know unless you ask.)

This idea is totally transferable to Amazon Prime Pantry, where you can order items and ship for a flat fee. (Or, if you choose the no-rush shipping on your other purchases, you get to stockpile free Pantry shipping!) You lucky ducks living in cities with one-hour Prime delivery can even add the benefit of perishables, making meals more nutritious for those who need it most. Locals, consider talking to City Mission about their ongoing needs.

You can take this a step further and if you know a family who needs some help, you can ask what they need most and ship it to them. Diapers, formula, detergent – think of the things you gripe about most to your spouse when it comes to price and then buy those things.

And there you go. You’ve now become thoughtful without having to think. Or, as I prefer to think of it, continuously thoughtful but never forgetting.

(As a side note, when I get the email telling me that my shipment is about to sail, I like to say a little prayer for the recipients, just as I would if I had put it in my grocery cart.)

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