The retail industry in America is buzzing with excitement. They believe that Valentine’s Day spending this year will be up about 11% over last year. The National Retail Federation expects $15.7 billion will be spent on traditional Valentine’s gifts – Greeting Cards, an Evening Out, Candy, Flowers, Jewelery etc. Canadians will spend a proportional amount of money too, but we don’t like to brag about it, I guess.
I can’t help but think that there are better ways for Americans to spend their $15 billion, given that they are still trying to recover from a recession. For example, did you know that there are about 50 million Americans who go hungry each day, and $15 billion dollars a year would feed them all? About $15 billion a year is needed to replace aging drinking water systems. $15 billion is twice what the National Parks Service needs to bring maintenance of facilities up to date.
Somebody needs to figure out how to market these needs and make it easy for people to put money or time into them. What if you could go to your local grocery store and purchase a gift card that said, “Happy Valentine’s Day! I Love you so much I donated $100 to the local Water Works Company so that you and the kids can have clean drinking water.” Or, “Be Mine… at the Park on Saturday – we’re going to help beautify the park our kids play in.”
Prepaid gift cards for things other than just more stuff – charities have gone down this path:
In Canada, there is a charitable website called CanadaHelps. This website lets you send donations to any one of 83,000 charities.
In the United States, one charitable gift card site is called TisBest. Another is JustGive.
Valentine’s Day at the Red House is pretty low key. This year, like many years, we won’t do anything to improve the local economy. Some years our family goes all out and exchanges little bags of cinnamon hearts, or a few bits of dark chocolate. But on the whole, we don’t view Valentine’s Day as a shopping event.
Robert Fulghum offered up these thoughts the day after Valentines Day:
Fulghum’s Eight Maxims on Giving and Getting Love:
1. Love cannot be forced or bought.
2. You can only get from another person the love they are able and willing to give in the form they can give it in.
3. You cannot get from another person the love you demand and need in the form you wish.
4. If what they have to give is what you want, then love works.
If not, it doesn’t and won’t.
5. If you concentrate on getting love, there will never be enough.
6. If you concentrate on giving love, there will always be enough.
7. Most people need the most love when they are the most unlovable.
That includes you. And me.
8. Finally, love is not a present you give or get, but something you do.