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La Leche League International
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Gift Giving Time

Anne Easterday, LLLI Board of Directors
Omaha, Nebraska, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 35 No. 6, December 1999-January 2000, p. 143

It’s that time of year again. Every day the mailbox is full. Invitations to holiday gatherings, catalogues for toys and gifts and letters from charities requesting donations. The end of the year is a time when people often give gifts to family and friends. Many also include charities on their list of gift recipients. This year, when you decide which organizations will receive your monetary gifts, please consider La Leche League.

Some Leaders are a bit taken aback when they are asked to give money to LLLI. After all, they volunteer countless hours of their time preparing and leading Series Meetings and evaluation/enrichment meetings, helping mothers one-on-one and over the phone, working with Leader Applicants, and reporting on their LLL activities to their support Leaders. Leaders donate even more of their precious time supporting other Leaders, fundraising, or participating in outreach projects. Donating photocopies, postage, phone calls, and travel expenses is common as well. Frequently, Leaders' families have made difficult choices to forgo second incomes in order to have mother available to the children. So what do leaders find so rewarding about their volunteer work that it inspires some of these women to give even more of their resources by donating money to La Leche League?

For many, it is the warm feeling they get when they are able to help a mother with a problem. Others are rewarded by the results of their work: women, who may have started out being very unsure of themselves, becoming confident, happy mothers and even co-Leaders! Support for their own parenting choices is a reward mentioned by still others. For some, it is the opportunity to give back to the organization that was there for them when they were having problems. Also, some Leaders mention the friendships they've made through their LLL work. These are the rewards that Leaders receive for their volunteer work as well as many of the same reasons that Leaders donate financially to LLLI.

Cathy Otto is one Leader who has made giving to LLL a priority. Not only does Cathy lead Series Meetings every month in her home, she is also the Area Treasurer for LLL of Nebraska. Cathy, her husband, Doug, and their three children, Spencer, Kelsey, and Jayden, live in Bruning, Nebraska, USA, population 330. Doug teaches physical education to kids from kindergarten through 12th grade. Cathy said, "Before I had children, I never thought I'd volunteer any of my time!" So how did Cathy get to the point where she not only gives so much of her time, but money as weIl? "La Leche League is very dear to my heart... it's my cause right now.”

Because so many LLL Leaders have had to sacrifice a great deal in order to be home with their children, there is often not much money to spare. Donations of every size are very important to the organization. It has been said that "Small streams make mighty rivers." According to information from Abby Peterson, Resource Development Officer for La Leche League International, last year, 84% of the gifts to La Leche League International were less than $100.

Sometimes a Leader may not be able to spare any of her family’s money to donate to LLLI. Another way to provide financial support to LLLI is through Group donations. La Leche League of Cary PM Group, Cary, North Carolina, USA has been quite successful with Group fundraising, and has chosen to share some of their good fortune by giving to LLL. Diane Beckman and Michelle Barry, two of the Group's Leaders had this to say:

Our Group decided to donate to LLLI because we had a healthy treasury and because of the important needs of the Capital Campaign. We feel blessed as a Group. We have had successful fundraisers and had more money than we needed to use locally. We wanted to make a contribution that would benefit all La Leche League Groups. We think of LLLI as our parent Group, the wellspring of our organization and we need it to be healthy. We saw or read about the old facilities, we had problems with ordering - -there was no question that our money could be put to good use. One of our Group Leaders has much experience with philanthropy and she guided our major contributions. It has also become a Group tradition to send Group and individual donations to LLLI to recognize a co-Leader's life changes - a birth or death in her family. This is an important way to honor our co-Leaders and support our organization at the same time.

Personally, the more that we learned about LLLI and the work that is done at the Schaumburg office, the more motivated we became to contribute more as volunteers and financially. We receive two excellent magazines and so much more for our Leader Dues. We count on new and updated materials from the Publications office. We want LLLI to continue to provide top-flight information and support to Leaders, members and the world at large. That's not going to happen without our continued support, in whatever form we can contribute.

La Leche League's mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother. Not only does this work take mother-to-mother support and sharing, it takes money. Programs like 1-800-LA LECHE, production of new publications, references and support to the Professional Liaison Leaders from the Center for Breastfeeding Information, and scholarships for peer counselors would not be possible without the generosity of our donors. Think back to when you were a new mother with your first breastfeeding baby. Remember why you became a Leader. Help keep La Leche League's unique mother-to-mother support available to breastfeeding families around the world. And thank you for all you do!

Dear LLL,

The fifteen years we spent as a very active part of LLL have touched ours and our children ’s lives in only the most beneficial ways. My husband and I continue to encourage parents to breastfeed their children and it continues to make a difference. In fact, I strongly believe that if everyone followed LLL ’s simple down to earth guidance, there would be far fewer problems in this old world of ours!

LLL is needed in today ’s world more than ever. We are proud to be able to assist in the most essential work with our occasional financial help. LLL will always be in our hearts and in our lives.

Mary MacConnell
Retired LLL Leader

Dear LLLI,

I have been fortunate enough to come into some money and want to spread it around. Who better to receive it than LLL, my mothering mentor, my empowering support. Thank you for 21 years of continuous focus on babies and the mothers they teach and for guiding me as a Leader for almost 18 of them!

Ann Russell

My name is Ester Matlock from Tucson, AZ. My 6th grade class at Alice Vail Middle School recently did a unit of study in which we started our own city, of which I was the Vice-Mayor. We held City Council meetings, had police people, and opened businesses to sell goods to the school. My partner and I sold Root Beer floats and chocolate chip cookies and made about $100. I got $50. We had to give 10% to a charity and I immediately thought of La Leche League, as my mother Sharon Crouse- Matlock is an active Leader. All three of us kids were breastfed and she is the ACL of AZ. Keep up the good work.

Ester Matlock

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