Unsorted letters in Munich, Germany.
Unsorted letters in Munich, Germany. - 
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The National Park Foundation just sent me, unsolicited, 90 return address labels. Labels with my name and tiny pictures of iconic landmarks-- the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful. I paused for a moment -- to toss or not to toss? -- and then punted. Into a file they went, joining more than a dozen other sheets of labels.

Exactly what year do charities and nonprofits think it is, 2013 or 1983? Didn't they see the headlines about the Postal Service trying to end Saturday delivery, in part because first-class mail is disappearing? Letters, cards and bills -- these days we email, text and bank online. Increasingly, envelopes in need of return-addresses just aren't being sent.

Yet the labels keep coming. Make a donation, and you know what you'll soon receive. Or sometimes a group surprises you with labels, in the hope you'll send a check.

Thanks to both strategies, I have return address labels with holiday ornaments from the American Diabetes Association...birds and flowers from the Nature Conservancy...a cartoonish frog from the March of Dimes. Amnesty International's labels have its yellow candle logo, and the U.S. Olympic Committee just cannot stop sending my husband red-white-blue-and-gold ones on behalf of Team USA.

After my father died at age 93, I threw out thousands of labels he'd accumulated in just a few years of living at a seniors community. Let me stress, thousands.

Charities say address labels work. They help get people's attention. But surely they work less well than before. These days, surely they cause as much irritation as appreciation.

So c'mon, charities, get with the times. If you're determined to send me something, make it really useful. Or maybe really retro. How about... a pen?

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