No one likes wax beans, generic Kraft Dinner and "apple beverage". Think before you give.
This post comes from a good friend of mine, Ani Perrault. She wrote it years ago, and I read it then. I reread it every year. Why? It is, quite simply, the best thing I've ever seen on the internet.
We are midway through the holiday season, which for some is the good old American Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas, and others celebrate Hanukkah, Solstice or more traditionally these days what I like to call "Giftmas" which is some hybrid of the traditional Christmas and the over-commercialization that has come from a very spoiled, upper middle class perspective.
Guy's we are SPOILED.
Now I'm not going to get off on a tangent about helping the needy or the less fortunate because gosh darn does Christmas ever suck when you're eating spam out of a can with a plastic knife on Christmas Eve sharing a king can of cheap beer with the misses. Everyone who has ever been poor can tell you it sucks to be poor, and I am in general of the opinion that helping people in need is not something anyone deserves a pat on the back for.
Unless you are giving up your life and all of your wealth for a philanthropic cause a la Mother Theresa you aren't getting a cookie from me for giving the homeless guy some change.
And while I bring that up, let me elaborate on why I routinely give the homeless people in my neighborhood in the realm of $8-$20 when they ask me for spare change (I usually carry between 20-60 in change on my person so when I'm asked I reach in for a handful of coins, and because I am Canadian and we have our $1 and $2 coins this can often amount to a decent sum of money) the reason I stand by firmly for this, is while it's all good to donate your time and your money to a shelter or soup kitchen, what very few people in a position of privilege fail to understand is that those places fill up, they run out of food and they run out of space. Men are put lower on the list than women and children, and even if you are a man with a child, you aren't prioritized (in most places) ahead of women. Shelters are not a perfect solution. Neither are soup kitchens. A lot of these places refuse to serve people with addictions, and some even refuse to serve people who don't believe in the religion that is being preached at that mission.
And on a lighter note I am happy to give the guy pan handling outside of the liquor store my change, because even if he uses it to buy booze not a sandwich, his life has got to suck more than mine, after all I have somewhere warm to sleep, and a bottle of wine in my pantry and I don't need to rely on the sympathy of strangers to enjoy a beer. The way I look at it, the guy outside the liquor-mart has more reasons to want a drink than I do, by a long shot.
So this is my basic view on giving, I think it's something you should do in any capacity you can, be it spare change, donations to charity, time spent volunteering or canned goods for charity whenever and however you can.
It's just good old human kindness, if you can afford a cup of coffee you can afford to help out from time to time.
But that said, you need to consider how you help people. Of course there is going to be some self satisfaction from giving to someone who needs it. But you need to also consider what you are giving.
Everyone has been to some event or benefit where they were asked to bring in a can of food for the food bank. and what do people usually donate, a random can from their pantry, often something they're unlikely to eat, canned ham, spam, wax beans, white rice, generic mac n cheese.
Let me derail this into a story about my own experiences receiving charity.
Once upon a time there was a 22 year old recently separated mother of two children ages 13 months and 3 years respectively. I had left my husband 6 months prior and was having trouble getting on my feet. My girls and I shared a very small one bedroom apartment, we had a very tight budget, I had no skills and an ex who didn't pay support, and really I had no idea how I was going to take care of us. So because I needed all of the support I could get I had joined a church a few months before I moved out on my own and had grown quite close to some of the people I attended "small group" (bible study group held Friday night) with. There was this lovely woman whom for the sake of this story I will call "E" who had 3 sons ranging from ages 13 to 5 and all of them were going to a very prestigious private Christian school. Their father was a former minister who now taught at a school and "E" herself was a teacher as well. They were a lovely family and did so much to make me feel welcome and supported and included in the church.