Call it a midlife crisis, but I'm suddenly realizing that I won't be here forever (shocking!) and I'd like to do my part before I depart for wherever it is that we go someday. I know I have a while, but judging by how much more quickly time goes by lately, I figure I should get started now. My great-grandfather Boppie used to say that you should always leave a place cleaner than you found it. My Grandma (his daughter) and Grampa followed his advice, and would always bring a trashbag on their daily early morning walks in the woods and in their neighborhood so that they could make everything nicer and safer for all beings. My father and stepmother volunteer on so many worthy projects in their town, and my Dad started volunteering his time in the last couple of years clearing small footpaths for hikers in the protected town woods behind his house and throughout the neighborhood. (It's amazing.) So my turn is long overdue.
I suddenly feel very anxious to give back and to try to make this world better for all animals, not just human ones. Such small amounts of our money can do so much good for organizations that depend on our interest, pun intended. So many people out there are doing incredible work. I make a small contribution as a third-grade teacher, yes, but there are many many others who do things that make me shake my head in admiration. It's easy to watch the news at night and lose hope, but there's a hell of a lot of good stuff happening in the world.
Last night, I had a bit of an epiphany. What if I could use this website as one (of many) ways I could give back? I'm always recommending books and movies anyway, so I checked out the Amazon Associates program. In short, when you have your own "Amazon store" on your blog/website or when you make links to Amazon, up to 15% of the money on purchases made through your site goes back to the blogger. This would be the perfect way to give monetary assistance to our local animal sanctuary, Maple Farm, to help rescue, feed, and shelter the animals that have been abused, abandoned, or diverted from slaughter. When we visited last month, they had just gotten a shipment of chicks that were rescued from the post office, of all places. Someone had ordered a box of chicks - presumably to raise them for eggs and meat -- and never picked them up. The postal workers were going to kill them, but one guy there got upset and said he'd find a place to bring them. Somehow he found out about Maple Farm, and there they were, in their own little clean stall, with a warm light, water, and plenty of food, all huddled happily together in a big heaping pile of cuteness. The farm owners were even teaching them how to eat. (You tap your finger on the ground and that replicates the mother hen's plucking food off the ground. When you do that, they instantly start to pluck at the ground too. It's pretty frickin' adorable! I got to try it, and it worked like a charm.)
So you'll notice that I have my new store at the bottom of the page and that many links in my posts connect to Amazon. I'm picky about what I recommend, however. There are many many books out there that I've either read and wasn't crazy about or that I simply haven't read yet or know very little about. I'm in the process of gleaning the good ones. If you plan on buying any of these books, consider doing it through my store (it doesn't cost you any additional money), as 15% of that will come back to me in $10 increments, which I'll just send that directly to Maple Farms. While this won't garner a lot of cash at first as the blog is still relatively unknown, I do have a fun plan forming. (And I believe that if you go through my link to get to Amazon to purchase other items not in my store, the 15% still goes back to me/Maple Farm. I have to check on that, but I think that's how it works.)
Giveaway Coming Soon!
Once I have twenty "Followers" I plan on doing a giveaway that is pretty cool. Giveaways tend to increase readership dramatically and they're just plain fun! (I've entered a few and haven't won yet, but it's always a thrill to try.) In ultimately increasing the readership, I hope to not only raise money for Maple Farm, but to mainly be a voice for the animals in a way that is non-threatening and friendly. Folks may even make small (or big!) changes in their lives that can 1) make their own lives better and healthier, 2) make the lives of the animals WAY better and 3) improve the life of the planet. Lofty goals, but I sense that's what we're all here to do. Let's get lofty!
So, if you aren't a follower yet, consider becoming one and encouraging friends to follow as well. Once we have our twentieth follower, I will have the big fun giveaway! (It's not Oprah-esque in scale -- no trips to Australia -- but it's still sweet.)