Mom never ran low.
Reader, I’m beginning this post with a Tolerance sticker from the Southern Poverty Law Center because its image is clear, its colors are bright and its message is uplifting.
That makes it the most worthwhile item from Mom’s collection of address labels. The labels were sent by nonprofits that hoped she’d donate.
I couldn’t begin with the photo below because the sheet of labels wasn’t very attractive after I scratched out Mom’s street address.
I did that to preserve the privacy of the family living there now. They’re not involved in this blog and they don’t need their street address plastered here.
Mom’s house (the house where my five siblings and I grew up) is gone. It was bulldozed on Halloween 2007, a year after she died.
The current residents have traded up. Our run-down, one-story domicile has been replaced by a sprawling Dallas palace.
I don’t know that family. They may get their own share of unsolicited address labels.
But it would be hard to rival Mom’s.
In a bag I brought from her house – why, I don’t know – I found close to 1,500 labels sent from at least 25 nonprofits. Here are a random five:
- The Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation
- Help Hospitalized Veterans
- The League of Women Voters
- The Humane Society of Texas
- Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch
For some nonprofits like the March of Dimes and the American Diabetes Association, Mom had many sheets of labels.
How many labels could she actually use?
Let’s add ‘em up.
In a given month, she might mail five bills, 20 meeting agendas to members of her investment club, two thank-you notes, three get-well cards and five letters to children and grandchildren.
That’s 35, or about one sheet of labels.
I think she saved hundreds because it was flattering to receive something with her name on it and because hey, they were address labels. They’d come in handy.
It was about 25 years ago, in the early nineties, that mailed solicitations that included address labels started getting popular as a fundraising strategy.
Mom was approaching 70. By age, gender and socioeconomic status, she was a potential nonprofit donor.
This fact was not lost on nonprofits’ direct marketers.
As Mom donated, her name got sold to other nonprofits.
She heard from organizations that wooed her with labels featuring her name plus flowers …
or images of Christmas and New Year’s …
or her last initial.
She saved all of those plus the patriotic ones …
and the ones targeted at pet lovers and people old enough to remember unicycles and gramophones.
Mom even saved the ones that misspelled her last name …
or misspelled her first name and made her a doctor.
She saved the ones that showed little regard for quality. Had anyone taken the time to test what these images were going to look like when printed the size of a Chiclet?
What will I do with these hundreds of labels?
I’ll add one sheet from the Democratic National Committee to my “Mom and Dad Memorabilia” notebook. The DNC was a nonprofit that Mom always rooted for, giving it her time as well as her money.
The rest I’ll shred. That’s what I do with the ones that find their way to my own door.
I do donate, but I try not to end up on every mailing list. So I’m not of prime interest to direct-mailers.
But they liked Mom. I think she actually appreciated the personalized address labels. As new ones arrived, she’d add them to her impressive collection.
Sometimes she’d say ‘thanks’ with a check.
She became very popular.