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Charity begins with a home
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I’m going to be honest here. I never, ever give to a charity unless there’s the possibility of getting something back.

And I don’t mean an appreciative smile from some volunteer. Or worse yet, receiving a warm fuzzy feeling.

I don’t get much of those anymore. The warm-fuzzies. Unless you count the times (and they’ve been numerous of late) when I’m wrapped up in a blanket and just too “tired” to untangle myself in time for that 3 a.m. restroom break.

Did I just stumble into the realm of too much information?

No, when I give to a charity I want something in return. Something I can put my hands on. Something tangible. Something I can take to Welsh Pawn Shop in times of trouble.

So when I heard about the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway a few weeks ago I became almost downright philanthropic. A virtual Salvation Army of one.

Each year -- this is the 13th, by the way -- communities across this great nation of ours raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital by raffling off the American Dream: a brand new house in the suburbs.

This year volunteers in our community continued this grand and noble tradition by offering Dream Home tickets for a mere $100. Only 7,000 tickets would be available, we were told.

Those aren’t bad odds for a $325,000 house (I was a tad crushed to find out there was no pool) in Richmond Hill. I’ve yet to visit Richmond Hill, but I hear the best Savannah families are still fleeing there.

St. Jude is truly a wonderful organization. They’ve treated children with serious illnesses regardless of their family’s ability to pay for more than fifty years. If I ever give up my selfish quid pro quo ways, this would be the charity I would do volunteer work for.

I can still fondly remember the times Momma tried admitting me to St. Jude. Never mind there was nothing wrong with me. She just wanted me out of the house. Maybe now’s the time I try getting her into one of those splendid unassisted living homes. Quid pro quo, Momma.

Anyway, I purchased my Dream Home ticket the day before the live drawing held on WSAV. Raffle aficionadoes the world over swear the odds of winning are better if you make your move just before deadline. Something to do with the last-in, first-out theory, I suppose.

When the big day arrived I hurriedly untangled myself from my blanket, poured myself a bowl of Lucky Charms and turned on the telly. Before I could say “Goodbye stinking hellhole, hello Richmond Hill!” nagging doubt set in.

Mother of Jefferson Davis! What had I done? What guarantee was there that my

ticket had actually made its way into that hopper (I guess that’s you call them. Better ask one those raffle aficionadoes next time) so prominently displayed right there on WSAV?

Did that woman with the beady eyes and slight facial hair, the one I handed a real one hundred dollar bill to, actually turn in my ticket? Or did she pocket the money and wisely proceed to get a face wax and a pedicure?

In all fairness, my receipt and a nice little thank you note (I didn’t win the house) did arrive a few days later at my aforementioned stinking hellhole. But how was I to know that as I sat there watching the drawing with only a bowl of stale Lucky Charms and Nagging Doubt for breakfast companions?

Even though I have come to terms with not winning the house, it was for a good cause. It was for good cause, I keep telling myself.

I do have a few suggestions for next year’s drawing:

1) Hire an independent auditing firm to count and keep tabs on the tickets. You know, the way they do it at the Oscars.

2) Define “conflict of interest.” My bowl of cereal fell to the floor when it was revealed that the winner of the house was not only a friend of the Dream Home’s builder, but was presently having another house built by them, too. Hmmm.

3) Whoever the kid was that was doing the drawing needs to be told “Collect your belongings and leave the playground.” Turning his back to the camera just before drawing the winner’s name didn’t exactly instill confidence in the viewing audience. Besides who knows whose cousin’s bother’s baby’s momma nephew he might have been. Hire a professional. Hire an adult.

Now with all that said, I still plan to buy another ticket next year.

Just the other day an old gypsy woman approached me on the street and said I would win. Of course, the old gypsy turned out to my mother. I guess she’s trying to get on my good side and avoid those unassisted living accommodations I’ve been looking into.

But if indeed I win, all of you are invited to take a tour of the house.

Admission will be $20 in advance. $30 at the door. Hey, pools cost money.

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