Friday, May 08, 2009

Givin’ It Away

by Lisa Curry

I’m not generally a fan of reality TV. I’ve never watched a single episode of Survivor or American Idol. Give me Law & Order or Medium. I like my TV scripted in advance by real writers, rather than scripted after the fact by creative editors.

My better half, however, is a TV head, and as I’m always telling him, there’s no underestimating what he’ll watch – including the most recent VH1 train wreck of a show, Daisy of Love, a spin-off from their previous train wreck of a show, Rock of Love, in which middle-aged rocker (and Western Pennsylvania native) Brett Michaels tried repeatedly to find true love among the skankiest group of fake-boobed young women I’ve ever seen. Daisy, one of his rejects, is now seeking her own true love among the freakiest bunch of overly pierced and tattooed young men I’ve ever seen.

As must be obvious from my familiarity with these shows, I sometimes get sucked into watching against my will and better judgment. And as with a train wreck, once you look, it’s really hard to look away.

(In Mr. Curry’s defense, I will say that we only watched about 15 minutes of one episode of Daisy of Love. It was too awful even for him.)

The one reality show my husband turned me on to that I truly like (and don’t feel dirty after watching) is the Biggest Loser. Even though I’m the original anti-fitness queen and could stand to gain five or ten pounds myself, I love watching unhealthy, obese people transform themselves into toned, fit, and much, much slimmer people. It’s amazing and inspiring, and I almost never miss an episode.

This week – the last week before the season finale – the four remaining Biggest Loser contenders ran a full marathon. Well, two of them ran. The other two had leg injuries, so they walked. But still, all four finished all 26.2 miles, including the middle-aged man with knee problems who weighed 469 pounds at the start of the season.

Their prize for finishing the marathon was a check for $10,000 for each of them to give to their favorite charity.

At the end of the show, my husband asked, “If somebody gave you $10,000 to give to charity, who would you give it to?”

I really didn’t know. I said maybe I’d surprise one of those fund-raising telemarketers who’s always calling me asking for money for SADD or the Veteran’s Fund or research for one of a myriad of deadly diseases by saying, “Yes, I’ll make a donation. I’ve got $10,000 for you,” instead of, “Not right now, but try me later,” or, “Okay, I guess I can give you $25.”

I feel sorry for telemarketers. I can’t think of a job I’d want less, unless maybe it’s prostitute. But it’s almost a toss-up.

My husband said he’d never give $10,000 to a pain-in-the-ass telemarketer. He’d give it to the West Deer Dog Shelter, where we adopted our beloved pound mutt, Brandy. (She’s the one who got lost when I took her to the vet’s a couple months ago and ended up living like a wild dog in a brush-filled ravine for five days while we searched and searched for her. Thanks to the kindness of strangers who saw our lost-dog flyers and called us, she’s happily home again, currently stinking up the house because she went out this evening and rolled in something nasty – and fecal, judging by the odor.)

But that’s a nice idea, actually. I’m sure $10,000 would be a tremendous help to any animal shelter, especially a small one like West Deer.

Although I don’t have $10,000 to give them, I think I’ll send them a check for a more modest amount I can afford, just because I’m thankful we managed to get the smelly dog they entrusted us with back home safely in the end. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

Now I want to know: If someone gave you $10,000 to donate to charity, which organization would you give it to and why?


Martha Reed said...

Lisa, can I split it between The Good Grief Center, Habitat for Humanity and my favorite charity, my personal 401K plan?

Joyce said...

My first pick would be The Smile Train. Volunteer surgeons do cleft lip and palate surgeries and train doctors in poor countries to perform the surgeries. My older son was born with a cleft lip and palate so I love donating to this charity. It gives children who don't have the medical care we have here the chance for a new life.

Tory said...

I don't like most reality TV shows, but I love "So You Think You Can Dance?" Maybe because they really try to equalize all forms of dancing, not making ballet/ modern the end all, be all. Last season several basically untrained street dancers made it into the top. Plus, I think back to when I was young and thin and could dance (though not like the contestants!) Would I have tried out for the show if it was around then??? How would I have done?

In terms of donating, my rules would be: 1) small enough organization that $10K would really count, 2) not a popular "feel good" cause, something that many good people would reject, and 3) not an advocacy organization (even the best of them have to take too extreme, black-and-white stances I just can't agree with.) Probably something in mental health.

Since I don't have $10K (or any K, for that matter) to donate, I guess I'll just wait till when I do to do the research on it.

Gina said...

That's a hard choice, Lisa. I've done a lot of walking to raise money to fight MS, stroke and breast cancer, and I tend to donate to organizations like Brother's Brother (despite its sexist name). If I had $10,000 in hand right this minute, though, I think I'd give it to World Dreams Peace Bridge (, an on-line peace group I belong to that raises money to support programs for kids in war zones and is right now helping an Iraqi family so the seriously ill mother can get cancer treatment. It's small time charity, able to help only a few, but it does good.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

For me it's an easy choice. Make A Wish Foundation. The charity that grants wishes to terminally ill children.

As an aside to that, I just picked up a speaking gig for a writers group south of St. Louis. They informed me that they could only give me $25 for a fee. I never asked for a fee and I thought I was doing it for fun and a chance to sell and sign some books.

As it turns out, the talk is scheduled for the same time as the Susan Komen Race for the Cure here in St. Louis. I told my wife last night that I was going to donate the $25 to the foundation for breast cancer. I figured it's the least I could do.

For the record, on the first episode of this season's American Idol I picked Danny, Adam and Allison as the 3 finalists. Well, Danny and Adam are there, but Allison made it to 4th.

Jennie Bentley said...

St. Jude's. I have a niece with leukemia, and we have friends whose daughter went through it a couple of years ago, as well. We also support the Nashville Rescue Mission and the MS Society, since I had an aunt with MS. And of course I owe it to the brilliant Laura Bradford!

Now, if someone would just give me ten grand to spread around...

Dana King said...

West Deer, eh? I grew up in Lower Burrell.

Like Tory, my ten grand would go to some organization small enough for it to make an immediate difference. Something dedicated to the literacy or health of children living in poverty, probably.

Glen said...

It's me the TV head(Lisa's husband)
First off I will defend my "low" standards of what I will watch on TV by saying I find it very amusing to see the way people will degrade themselves to be on these shows for money or just the notoriety.
One of the reasons I suggested the West Deer Dog shelter for my charity was when we adopted Brandy we gave them $50 (I think)over the requested donation for our adoption fee. The volunteer was clearly appreciative of the extra money and thanked us sincerely for it. Like Tory, I think it should be an org. small enough for it to make a real difference. Although $10,000 is not a million, to this small shelter it could be "life changing" money at least for a year.

lisa curry said...

Thanks for all the interesting information about charities I really wasn't even aware of. If I ever do have $10,000 to give to charity, now I have more ideas and options.

And, yes, Martha, you can split it, but, no, no fair making your 401(k) your favorite charity! But thanks for the early a.m. chuckle. :-)

Annette said...

Sorry I'm late chiming in. I'd probably send a big chunk of it to our local humane society, too, since my kitty came from there. But I'd like to give a tidy sum to an Alzheimer's charity in memory of my dad. No pun intended.

Oddly enough, my word verification is GREEDI.