Monday, November 28, 2011

My Life in Disaster: Couch Commerce Can Ease Holiday Shopping Stress!

With Thanksgiving behind us and the holidays not too far into the future I start to feel the pressure. From the beginning of last week we have been bombarded with "incentives" to get to the stores ASAP, or else the deals would pass us by.

According to this morning's online news sites Black Friday sales this year have broken records, with 226 million shoppers spending an average of $398.62 versus last year's 212 million shoppers who spent $365.34. Retail sales went up 6.6 percent. Apparently we don't even want to wait until the brick and mortars open up at midnight after Thanksgiving day anymore - with Turkey day online sales up almost 40 percent.

My best friend, Margaret, and I used to be two of those shoppers who woke up Friday morning--the shops opened up at 6:00 am back then--braving the chaos. We would take turns waiting on line as the other shopped for the latest toys on our kids' list to Santa. We made sure every wish their little hearts desired was fulfilled--only to watch them throw the toys aside a month later, to play with the packaging they came in.

Now that Black Friday is behind us, full steam ahead we barrel through to Cyber Monday. Here's where I breathe a sigh of relief. With just a few clicks on my keypad, I can put a dent in my Christmas shopping list.

Today, not only are major retailers offering huge deals, but so is the Red Cross at They are offering free shipping today only as well as discounts on some best-selling items. I bought a Red Cross track jacket at 50 percent off with free shipping. That is a pretty good deal! Not only can I check off one person off my gift list, I can do so feeling good about where my money is going.

The Red Cross Holiday gift catalog is the place to shop for gifts that mean something. As you browse the catalog you not only see how you can help, but you also become informed of exactly what the Red Cross does. The global scope of their service is inspiring.

One line of gifts centers around those currently serving in the armed forces. You can send a military comfort kit to a wounded service member. The kit provides them with a robe, shower shoes, a phone card to call home and an MP3 music gift card. Another way to give back to our brave service members is by buying a Hygiene Kit for homeless vets. A staggering one third of homeless adults are veterans. This kit provides them a toothbrush, shaver, washcloth and other hygiene essentials.

For $75.00 you can buy a bicycle to help a Red Cross volunteer across the globe reach remote villages. You can help provide support for first responders, as they battle against disaster. You can provide food and shelter for victims of disaster worldwide, or right here in your own neighborhood.

However you want to help -- the choice is personal, but the benefit will be universal.

My Life in Disaster is a series of blog posts by Maha Awad, who is volunteering with the Red Cross and finding out first-hand what it means to be prepared for life’s many disasters.

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