My Mailing Labels

wl-385-return-address-label-templateCharities send me stuff.

I am not sure why –  but it concerns me.

What do they know that I do not?

Mostly, they just send labels. Wads of them. Every time I go to the mailbox before Christmas, I return with envelops bulging with address stickers and gift labels – and they all go into the junk drawer.

But sure enough, whenever I am in need of a mailing label, I can’t find one.

All I can find in the junk-drawer is dead batteries and a whole lot of stuff that I cannot identify.

I tell this to my wife, who informs me that I am looking in the wrong junk-drawer.

“Check the one in the desk,” she says.


And there I hit the mother lode of mailing labels. This little wooden drawer in my wife’s desk is without a doubt the fountain from which flows all of the mailing labels, gift-tags and envelop seals for the entire world. It is that chuck full.

We have address labels for the house we lived in before we lived in the house that we lived in before we moved here – and we have stickers for all the previous owners of all those houses.

We have mailing labels listing my wife’s maiden name, labels with my last name spelled incorrectly, labels with the wrong first name for both of us and labels for people we don’t know.

We have labels addressed to our children, labels addressed our parents and one charity for pets sends labels to Scooter.

“Why don’t we just throw them away?” I ask.

“No, ” she says, “we can’t do that.”

“Not even the mailing labels for our old addresses?”

She thinks about this for a while.

“Okay, but don’t get too carried away,” she warns, “we still might send out Christmas cards this year.”

It’s too late for that but I understand her reluctance.  These tokens were sown into our mailbox as seeds of guilt

They were put there to remind us that we have so much and others have so little and since the charity sent us something, we should send them something too.

Well, I will tell you…

I have nothing against contributing to charities. Goodness no. But all too often it is like feeding crackers to sea gulls. It is a selfless act of kindness that within seconds draws the entire flock – then other flocks attracted by the flurry of activity come cawing your way and they want their share too.

My parents fell victim to this.

They were generous people who gave what little they could and in return, they received five or six telemarketing calls a day from what could only be described as predatory charities.

I have nothing against the respectable ones – and I really don’t see any other way for them to raise the money – but for me, I keep a wad of bills handy to stuff into the kettles of the bell ringers who brave the cold every Christmas. …

But then there are predatory bell ringers as well.

Like the guy manning the kettle in front of the hardware store last week.

“A buck?” he says as I slip a bill into his kettle. “Ain’t you being a little cheap?”

We know each other and we always give each other grief, so I gave it right back.

“Speak for yourself,” I tell him, “last time I came in here, the bell ringer was singing Christmas Carols.”

“Put $5 in the kettle,” he says, doing a perfect Tony Soprano imitation.


“Or else I will sing,” he says.

I gave $10.

Author: Almost Iowa

31 thoughts on “My Mailing Labels”

  1. Gosh, I’m like your wife, I can’t throw those labels away; my whole house is a junk drawer. And I’m absolutely hopeless at declining to give something, the situation being now that the “flock of seagulls” has grown into a menacing squadron throwing about those “seeds of guilt” with ever higher monetary demands. I’ve heard somewhere that there are about 64 thousand registered charities in Australia! I’m bound to forever feel guilty!

    1. Other than stuffing dollar bills into kettles, our giving is limited to attending community fund-raisers. It has its downside, you put on pounds for all the sweet bread and cookies you buy at bake sales and you fill the shed with the oddest of things from silent auctions. The upside is that you get invited to go places, out in the country, that’s a big deal. 🙂

  2. I had some people come to my place the other day, collecting for charity in the name of some branch of the Christian faith. “Will you let Jesus into your home this day?” one of ’em enquired.
    “Sure” I replied “He can come in anytime but you and your pal can **** off”
    Merry Christmas to you and yours my friend

  3. I’ll tell you what might be more worrying: not getting any of those labels. I’ve been trying to remember the last time I threw some away. I believe it might have been the World Wildlife Federation, two years ago. I did get some this year for the person-before-last who lived in my apartment. That would have been about eight or nine years ago, so you have to give them credit. Why this is the first time I’ve received them, I don’t know. Maybe their label budget got increased.

    What did please me this year is that I finally ran into a Salvation Army bell ringer. They’ve disappeared around here for the most part, but just hearing that bell ringing in front of the local Kroger brought back: snow, painted store windows, the Christmas Club passbook from the bank, cracking black walnuts, making cookies for Santa, waiting for Santa, sneaking packages in the back door….

    Yep. Bell beats label, every time.

    1. You have to wonder why the bell ringers are vanishing. Sure hope it isn’t a reluctance on the part of businesses to allow them space.

      Some of my progressive friends grouse about the Salvation Army’s position on a number of social issues. What do they expect? The SA is a conservative religious group that does a lot good. People need to keep in mind that the true meaning of diversity and tolerance is putting up with opinions you don’t approve of.

      1. Substitute “refusal” for “reluctance,” and you’ve got it. Target was one of our local businesses who refused the bell ringers space. That happened a couple of years ago, I believe. Whether it’s a national policy, I don’t know.

        1. From the Target website

          Target has a long-standing policy that prohibits third-party solicitation at our stores nationwide. To provide a distraction-free shopping environment for our guests, we prohibit solicitation and petitioning at our stores regardless of the cause being represented to the fullest extent allowed by law.

          Well, talk about Uncle Scrooge!

          Half the joy of being out and about in the spring is Girl Scout cookies. What is life without thin-mints? And the soccer team’s car wash and the soft ball team’s bratwurst tent? No wonder Target left our town last year – this is volunteer paradise.

      2. Here’s Target’s own statement on the matter. Whatever the level of their corporate contributions, they’re still helping to erode a holiday tradition that helped children and low-income people feel as though they had something to contribute, too. The experience of putting a coin in a kettle was one of my first experiences of giving to strangers.

        1. I guess we were on a similar wave length, while you were posting this, I was composing the statement above.

          A big part of the joy of Christmas is giving gifts, giving toys to tots, giving canned food to the food shelf, giving spare change and giving time.

  4. I donated ten bucks to a charity ten years ago. I won’t name the charity. These days they are way too anxious to sue. Let’s just say it’s a national organization. They must have spent over a thousand dollars over the years sending me brochures, envelopes and personal letters telling me how needy they are. So I don’t contribute to that organization anymore. I figure if I give another ten bucks they will spend another thousand to get another ten bucks. So I am being very charitable to them. I’ve just donated a thousand dollars. It’s all that money they’ve saved.

  5. I recently received address labels from my insurance agent. Problem. The adhesive was bad and they didn’t stick. I received a follow-up letter of apology with new labels. Still not very sticky.

    I give only to local charities. Mail solicitations go in the recycling bin. Phone calls get a hang-up. Like your parents, my mom fell for all of these predatory charities. When my siblings and I cleaned her house several years ago, we found piles of address labels. An investigation of her bank account showed how much those labels cost her. I dislike when these so-called charities prey upon the generous spirits of people, especially the elderly.

    1. I am with you on that, Audrey. Most of our charitable giving is done through community groups and community activity… which usually involves food and a whole lot of yakking with family and friends. Most often, I get volunteered for the grunt work: the setting up and cleaning up, which suits me just fine.

      Other than that, I fill my pockets with $1 bills to slip into every kettle I encounter around Christmas time.

  6. I think other bell ringers could learn a thing or two from the one you know! And I loved the line comparing donating to charities to feeding the seagulls, because it is absolutely true. I love animals and am rather passionate about shelter dogs. But that doesn’t mean I want the calendars, tote bags and even socks that the various national humane societies keep sending me! All because I sent them a check, once, years ago. Now I just donate to the shelter where I volunteer. Much simpler that way.

    1. Donating to a local shelter is the way to go and thank you for reminding me, I almost missed including them in my giving. Unfortunately, most of my giving has been dogs that just show up in my yard. The cats are allowed to stay as outside cats and they do quite well… but the dogs go to the shelter.

  7. Took forever for me to convince my 90 year old father at the time that just because they sent him labels or note pads he didn’t need to send them money. I explained to him when he responds that his name gets put on a list that is shared with every organization known to man kind!

    1. In the past, some charities gave more valuable gifts then billed the recipient. Some went so far as to pose as collection agencies. Those were the bad old days.

  8. We have gone rounds with those charities. One used to send us little cards with boxes to check – $1 $5 $10. Then, after a while they changed to $3 $8 $15. Then $6 $12 $20 – and we stopped giving altogether. The bell ringers need a system that lets them know I gave to the bell down the street.

      1. Except the teller thinks you’re going to a strip club 😉

        When I’m in NY, I stick a bunch of singles in my pocket for the folks who will be asking. I still try to be selective (sorting the real sad souls from the guy with a BMW around the corner) but when I run out, I’m usually done for the day.

  9. “But all too often it is like feeding a cracker to a sea gull.” Perfect!

    I also have a desk drawer full of these labels. Useful, often humorous to see who they think is living here. And kind of fun to group by mis-spellings–gives me an idea of who’s selling my labels to whom.

      1. That’s a neat trick. I might try it. Meanwhile as long as they’re not too badly wrong I’ll still use the labels. I’ll have to. Otherwise they’ll take over all the remaining space on my desk.

      2. Did this by mistake ordering a nursing /medical text book. Followed the error thru junk offers all the way to a porn mailing! Called the postal inspectors office. They informed me nothing they could do but suggested I contact the original contact and inform them what their high educational reputation devolved into once they started selling their lists.
        Whoever I talked with seemed upset, requested I send them any materials. They would try to correct. Actually the junk stopped not long after. And I got a few nursing texts gratis.

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