Charity – Just Do That One Little Thing

Most days, he sits on the wall outside my local Walmart, far enough away from the front door so the manager won’t roust him . His clothes are disheveled and he always looks in need of a bath as he holds up his sign. “Homeless. Please help.”

The shoppers walk by, most trying to avoid eye contact. I understand the tactic. It’s something a native New Yorker learns early. And, after a very scary experience many years ago with someone on the street who felt the coins I gave him were not enough of a donation, I too honed my ability to keep walking.

It took me a long time, many years in fact, to get over that incident and I’m not sure exactly when it happened. But I’m now of the mind that this is the one and only way to ensure every dollar gets into the hands of someone who may really need it. To say I’ve lost my faith in organized “charities” is an understatement.

charitiesgrid

I started seeing this grid circulated via email and Facebook posts recently. As with most memes I receive, I questioned its veracity.  My concern had to do, not with the charities that we are being warned off of but, with the list of those we should trust. Trust is the key word here. It’s what we, as a society (and very possibly as a species), are losing by the boatload on a daily basis. The more the human animal is convinced that they do not owe their fellow humans even the commonest of courtesies, that we are all entitled to whatever we want or want to say or do without having to take responsibility for our actions, the more we also learn that trusting each other simply amounts to folly. It becomes an old fashioned concept worthy of ridicule and scorn, with those expecting to be able to trust any of their fellows ending up labeled as idiots, fools, and simpletons.

So I did some research of my own. I wanted to know the facts about the charities mentioned above.There’s a lot of information out there and it’s a bit of a slog trying to cull out the meaningful stats. The info also may vary from site to site, and finding current figures can be difficult. Here’s what I found:

charitycomparisongrid

It’s pretty much my obsessive update of the previous grid. What better way to spend a few hours, right? I know it’s nowhere near as readable or compact, but it still may give a more realistic picture of the charities that send you all that junk mail.

Speaking of junk mail, when my daughter was in high school (this was four years ago) one of her teachers required the students to give to one of a specific list of charities. We were pretty upset because her grade depended upon it, and being forced to donate to something we had not chosen ourselves was pretty offensive. We could have made a stink about it, but in the end we just did it. Well, she chose UNICEF. What a mistake. For the next three years, my daughter received mountains of mail from other charities as well as organizations she had never contacted. She was a minor and not even old enough to vote, yet she was receiving correspondence from the DNC. Obviously UNICEF  had sold her name and address, and we had paid $25.00 for the pleasure. My husband became so aggravated that he started returning all of the letters to their senders, using their own postage-paid envelopes every chance he got, marking them MINOR in big bold letters. It still took almost four years for the letters to stop coming.

And what of the man who sits outside Walmart? Is he really homeless, or just a great actor? I can’t know for sure and if he’s not, it’s on him. I know one thing: if I give him money, he’ll get the use of one hundred percent of it. For this reason, I do not walk by him. I don’t avert my eyes. I’ve always taught my daughter to be wary, to be safe and perhaps a little too fearful. But I took her with me last week, and he was there, and she and I walked up to him, as I always do. I handed him five dollars and I said “take care”, like I always do. It didn’t make us feel better, because he’s probably still homeless. I can’t take him home with me. I can’t do much for him. It was just one little thing we could do for another human being. No administrative costs involved.

If there’s a point to this rant at all, it’s a sad one. The fact that we question at all just confirms the material they’re paving the road to Hell with has not changed. Are there no trustworthy people in the world any longer? I’d like to think there are. I pledge each year for cancer research via a customer of mine, a survivor, who walks the Relay for Life. I do this with true hope for a cure, having lost a number of family members and friends to various strains of the disease. It’s one small thing I can do. So I do it.

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