Sunday, July 5, 2009

Real rants about less than real donations...

Disclaimer: I am in the unfortunate position of occasionally having to swallow my pride so that my children can swallow food. While I am grateful to those of you who sincerely give from the heart, this rant is NOT about you!

Ok, this is going to anger those of you that despise the poor. Those of you that feel that ALL homeless, difabled, down-on their-luck, and mentally ill brought everything upon themselves probably won't get the point of this. But, here goes. My first question is this. What would possess people to give food to pantries, food banks, can good drives etc... if they really hate the poor? Giving rusty, expired, 10-year old cans of beets and 5 year old boxes of Hamburger Helper with no Hamburger is sending what message? Again, let me say that this is not a matter of ingratitude. It is a matter of feeding families. I have gone to food pantries that have given us expired milk, 7 year old yogurt, grey meat, and cans so dented that botulism would consider them home sweet home.

Now before you start with well if "I were in need, I would be grateful for whatever I was given", try thinking from a poor person's perspective. Your paycheck comes, you have enough for rent or food but not both. So you pay the rent, and go to your local foodbank. After waiting in a very long line, answering questions that make you think you are applying for top secret clearance at the pentagon rather than a few days food to feed your family, and then being handed a couple bags of groceries to take with; you think it was worth it now my kids won't go hungry. Then, imagine what it feels like to get home and find out that the can goods are rusted, dented, and expired; there are 3 or 4 boxes of Hamburger Helper with no Hamburger in sight; and you have a whole bag of yogurt that has been frozen but expired years ago. Hint: freezing something that expired 6 or 7 years ago does not make it edible. So the best you can do with most of your "groceries" is to trash them. Yet the world would say "Be grateful you could have gotten nothing!" Well I am not the world and I say GET REAL! Here is a letter another blogger wrote in 2002, appealing to donors to a Christmas drive she was working for. There is some very passionate language in the letter, so if 4 letter words bother you don't read it, but it really drives home the point:

Open Letter to Obtuse Donors to Christmas Toy Drives

Merry Christmas Donors.

Let me first say Thank You for keeping our organization in mind when it comes time to share your holiday good will with those less fortunate than yourselves.
That said, speaking as someone who spent several hours today sorting through your ‘generous donations’, I’d like to offer a few thoughts – perhaps you could keep these in mind when next Christmas rolls around? We’d appreciate it. And so would the homeless and indigent children who are at your mercy.
Please … wash used items first. That is, IF we say we will accept used items. Which we probably won’t – because these are, you know, CHRISTMAS GIFTS.
Please … no old unlabeled cans of food. Unlabeled cans of food are not fun toys for children. They also don’t fit very well into stockings.
Please … leave the size & care tags on any new clothing you donate. We’re not psychic.
Please … remember that infants will put small items in their mouths. Keychains & Superballs are not appropriate toys for infants. Wrapping small, dangerous items in pretty paper & labelling them ‘Gift for Infant, age 0-6 months’ doesn’t actually make them appropriate gifts for infants aged 0-6 months.
New mothers really do appreciate items that aid in infant care. Helpful donations include: infant formula, baby bottles with nipples, packages of diapers, teething rings, educational toys, baby clothing, and the like. Items which are not helpful include: previously opened packages of diapers containing one lone diaper with sticky tabs now missing, pre-chewed zwieback, stale rice cereal, old cups with crusty old milk baked on in your dishwasher, dirty bibs, and the like.
If you keep no other rule in mind, please, for the love of God, at least remember this:
When we ask for ‘Clean, new, unwrapped items’, WE FUCKING MEAN CLEAN, NEW, AND UNWRAPPED. ‘K? Honestly, would you give your baby a USED teething ring? How about a dirty sock? And if you wrap up your dirty, used shit, we still have to unwrap it just so we know what the hell it is before we hand it to some poor baby’s mommy. Repeat after me: "I will not wrap up my own child’s pre-chewed, filthy crap and pretend my garbage is a gift." Seriously, how about I hand you my dog’s chewed-up rawhide bone & ask you to put it under the tree for your grandson? Right. That’s how the gift recipients feel, too. They’re people, not fucking raccoons.
And have a Blessed holiday!
Thank you.---Devra at Talk a Blue Streak