Thanksgiving to Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I enjoy the meanings behind the holidays of being thankful for all that we are blessed with and celebrating Jesus' birthday. Spending time the family, holiday baking, house decorating, shopping, and gift giving (and who am I kidding the receiving) are all reasons why I enjoy the season so much.
But, one thing that I don't enjoy is all the people asking for money, food, clothes, and other donations during the holidays. I know that sounds harsh, but just being honest. You can't go anywhere without being hounded to donate money, drop off food, give toys, buy clothes....I get that there are other people out there who need these items, but why do they only need it during this time of the year? Are there not any hungry, naked, poor people during the rest of the year?? Why do we get inundated with charities only during this season?
Of course, I fall for it though. Zoe bought boxes and boxes of macaroni and cheese (because to her this is something that nobody can live without) to contribute to her food drive at school, Dylan bought cans of vegetables, fruits, stuffing, and baked beans for his, and I donated cans of yams to help stuff dinner baskets for our community. Honestly, I could have probably cooked two Thanksgiving dinners for what I spent for food drives!
What I would really like to know though is where does the food go? Are the baskets going to families who really need it or to just random families who asked for help. This is going to sound cynical, but I wonder if sometimes food and other items are given to families who really should not receive it.
Let me tell you a story...
Every year my school nurse collects names of families in our school to receive holiday assistance. The family, if chosen, then completes a questionnaire about their family, the ages, interests, needs, wants, etc. Then she matches the family with a donator. Last year one of my student's family was chosen for holiday assistance so I asked the nurse if I could go ahead and have them as my family. Of course, it is anonymous so the student never knew, but I had so much fun choosing some toys, games, new clothes, and putting together a food basket for the family. I kept thinking about how I was helping a family have a special Christmas that otherwise they wouldn't be able to have. I loved the feeling. Skip forward to the students return after the holidays. There is always a lot of talk about what they all got, where they went, what they ate, and I was very curious to hear what my student had to say. Well evidently, the family got a new X-Box with multiple games, a big screen tv, the dad got a new cell phone, the student had an Ipod, and the list went on and on. Now you may wonder if he was just saying all this to keep up with the other students, but I really don't think so because he wasn't that type of child. I'm pretty good and picking out those kind!
Anyways, since then I admit to having a sour attitude about holiday assistance. I wonder if my contributions are really going to a family who will appreciate it or if it is just a way of enabling.
What is your take on holiday charities? How do you ensure that your contributions are being put to good use? Are there any charities that you always donate too or any that you avoid? Do you put a monetary limit on what you donate throughout the holidays? I'd love to hear all you have to say so talk to me people!