Before You Give to a Charity (really helping those in need)


‘Tis the time of year for charities.  To give to those less fortunate.  To share some of our blessings.

We often gave money to organizations that helped the homeless.  Then we became homeless ourselves after losing our rented farm.  We opted not to go on welfare, but rather to work very hard to get jobs and get back on our feet.  About this time two years ago we were out of money and hungry.  You can only eat so many dollar burritos from Taco Bell with found change.  We looked into getting a food basket from a local charity that distributed them.  I didn’t have a coat, I was freezing.  We were really struggling and not a single organization could or would help us.  They gave everything to the “poorest” in the county.  Well, you couldn’t have been poorer than us at that moment.  You have to work pretty dang hard to be the poorest in the county.  You have to get on welfare and food stamps, and you can’t try to find work or you would lose your pay out every month.  No thanks.

Then we have the homeless organizations that we gave to.  Those are intended to serve the perfectly able folks with signs-who make more money than anyone I know- on the corners of busy streets.  We did a farmer’s market for years in a park that was popular with the homeless.  They stole, took drugs in the park, excitedly went and got free food from the food kitchen, and had no desire to change their lives.  Or they wouldn’t be homeless anymore.  It was a lifestyle they chose.  They were the first to admit it.  And that really surprised us.

Now, this all sounds a little harsh, but let me be clear, there are people out there that need your help.  They just don’t have cardboard signs and are working hard to try and make it.  They are the elderly on your block who would love company and a meal with someone.  It’s the single mom who can’t afford new coats for her swiftly growing children.  It’s the friend at work whose wife is sick and they need help with meals and cleaning the house but would never ask.  There are people all around you who could use a bit of charity and mercy and help.

Only a few cents goes to the people large charities serve.  If you were to just look around you could have a much more powerful impact, make a personal connection, and strengthen the community you are in.  I will forever be grateful to my old neighbors who showed up at my shop with a box of home canned food, squash, a winter coat, and a hug.

Before you write a check to a big charity, look around and see if anyone near you could use a little holiday help.  We all need a little help here and there.

(Thank you to all of our friends that pitched in back then with money, a place to stay, a dinner, and hugs.  We never imagined we would have been in that situation.  Amazing how much can change in such a short time. We are really grateful for all we have now.)


2 Comments Add yours

  1. I see first hand how charities work due to my job. It is sickening and I deal with them everyday although I don’t deal with the homeless, I deal with the dying. Our family, gives to our churches fundraisers who assist our local communities, schools, families. Check your local church community boards too. We have one for example where people can tack up a piece of paper with “anything” that is needed. A washer that busted for a family of 6, a job for a laid off father, a sitter so a mother can go to an interview, help with a meal, the lists are endless and there are always ways to help. It is not all about money. There are even support groups for single mothers who just need a break. If we got off line, went out of our way and spend the extra effort, we would find an enormous amount of people who are in need of support or just a little help. Fantastic post! I know about struggle as well. I slept in my car 4 months pregnant with my son as a single mother and struggled for 11 years raising him on my income. A different struggle nonetheless, but we barely made it. I mean barely. Tight hugs for you my friend.

  2. Helen says:

    Your situation re not being able to get help because you weren’t poor enough resonates with me. I was homeless with my baby after running away from my husband and was told I couldn’t have a place in a hostel for abused women because I had a job. Sure I could afford the rent but it takes weeks to move into a property and you’d have to have one heck of a salary to pay for a hotel.

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