Daily Archives: November 2, 2011

Get Off Your Soap Box: Warm Some Hearts

Today is my third attempt to dismantle my soap boxes and become an active participant in the things I believe in.  I am done shouting from the podium and expecting everyone else to do the grunt work.  If you have a soap box issue, please consider joining me on the ground level.

Spread the Wealth…er, mittens.  I don’t have wealth, but I have lots of extras.  With four growing kids, we annually fill garbage bags of clothes that my kids have outgrown.  Sadly, I know other people who literally fill not only trash bags, but their trash cans with gently worn clothes instead of donating them to somebody who can use them.

With winter fast approaching, I’ve cleaned out my closets.  A big job and one I don’t relish.  However, the following “extras” I found made it all worthwhile: mittens/gloves (7 pairs), hats (2), winter jackets (11), snowpants (5), scarves (2) and fall/spring jackets (6).

But what to do with them all?  Consignment stores don’t always get the gear into the right hands.  And even some community service organizations get a more diverse customer base than anticipated.  In fact, I’ve heard the Salvation Army has become kind of a chic place to shop for well-to-do individuals.  While it is not my right to judge others, I know for certain that I don’t want our extra winter gear to clothe kids whose parents can afford new winter wear.  This defeats the purpose of warming the hands and hearts of children in need.

Common arguments against donating to the needy:

  •  “It’s not my fault parents spend their money on cigarettes and booze instead of their kid’s clothes.”
  • “Why should I dress someone else’s kids when the parents are too lazy to pay for it themselves.  Get a job.”
  • “Nobody gives me handouts.”

To which I say: “You’re right.  You are not obligated to be kind, giving or supportive.  You are not obligated to part with your hard-earned money and out-grown snow clothes.  Nor are you obligated to provide for anyone besides yourself.”

Arguments for donating to the needy:

  • It is not a child’s fault his parents smoke or drink.  It’s not.  No matter how much one may dislike families on welfare or families who live in trailer houses or families who buy booze and not mittens, we must remember that the children are not the ones making these choices.  They are simply the ones with frost bit fingers and cold toes.
  • Again, a child is not responsible for a parent’s unemployment.  She is simply the one to suffer from lack of food, clothing and decent shelter.  She is the one standing on the playground with the wind whistling through her four-sizes-too-small, thread-bare coat.  Not to mention, not all unemployed parents are unemployed by choice.  I’ve known very affluent, educated individuals who lose their jobs.  I’ve known these same people to be unemployed eight months later.  If they had kids without new winter clothing would we feel bitter toward them or commiserate with their bad luck?
  • The “nobody gives me hand outs” argument is just plain ridiculous.  I don’t care who you are, we’ve all gotten something free at some point in our lives.  When we started out as newly weds, at least one piece of furniture, one set of dishes or one blanket was donated by parents, friends or friends of parents.  When we got pregnant, somebody passed their maternity clothes onto us.  When our friends’ kids outgrew that cute jumper and baby swing, we were the recipients.  Everybody gets hand outs at some point and to some degree.  Some just need them more than others.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t exactly get off my soap box for this matter.  But, I’m still doing something about it.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve always donated our children’s out-grown clothing.  However, I (rightfully) worry that these items don’t always make it to the right individuals.

Because our county does not have a Coats for Kids and I know we have many kids in our community who need coats, I’ve contacted a very wonderful and generous woman who works closely with families in need.  She’s already guaranteed our donations will get into onto the right hands.

How about you?  Do you have trouble donating to the needy?  If so, why?  Is donating items more acceptable than donating money?  Why or why not?  What are you teaching your children about your community’s welfare?  You don’t really need to answer those questions, but I’d like you to think about them and how this issue pertains to you and your community.

Easier questions to answer: What do you do with your used clothing?  Have you seen the new “for profit” drop boxes for used clothing?  If so, how do you feel about that?  What tips or resources do you know about that can help warm the hands and hearts of our nation’s youth?

Passionate minds want to know.