A Very Special Birthday Gift

As Communications Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development, I’m part of the Episcopal Communicators (EC) – an organization for those who work in communications in the Episcopal Church.  I got to know this wonderful group of people in person last month at the annual conference in North Carolina. 

One of the most prolific and popular contributors to the EC listserv is Mary Cox, the Diocesan Communicator from Southeast Florida.  She’s a fan of Episcopal Relief & Development and its support of the recovery work in Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake. So for her 70th birthday recently, she decided to put out a call on Facebook for a unique kind of birthday present: that her friends would make a donation to our Haiti Earthquake Fund.

I got an email from Mary after her birthday telling me that “one check is on its way to Episcopal Relief & Development for Haiti, and I think you'll enjoy knowing where it came from.”

For the past five or six years, two semi-feral cats have lived in the parking lot between the diocesan offices and Trinity Cathedral, in Miami.  “Other cats have come and gone,” Mary said, “but Leopoldito and Marble live here.  If they belong to anyone, they belong to me and Priscilla.”  Priscilla Greenfield-Manning is an active member of the cathedral and, according to Mary, a very active cat rescue person – responsible for, among other things, trapping and taking the “parking lot boys” to the vet “to be rendered EX-tomcats.”

Mary said that Priscilla had come over the other day with a belated birthday card that included a check for $21 for recovery work in Haiti and a note:

"Your parking lot felines brought a dead rat in honor of your birthday. They believed it quite the perfect gift, but Gil [the cathedral sexton] didn't. So accept this check [for Episcopal Relief & Development] as being more appropriate..."

The note said the donation was from her, and from Leopoldito and Marble.

I really love stories like this – and not just because I’m a cat person!  I also love being part of the Episcopal Communicators group and getting to know great people like Mary, and I love cool ideas for alternative birthday presents.

Leave me a comment here or on our Facebook page if you have other ideas or experiences with alternative gifts.  I know some people like to give chickens through Gifts for Life!

Faith Rowold is the Communications Officer at Episcopal Relief & Development.

Photo: Leopoldito, the black and white one, is the spokescat; Marble doesn't have to say anything, because he has perfected the most forlorn look imaginable, which gets him fed. Courtesy of Mary Cox.

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