The other day, I noticed in my Twitter stream that someone had complained to a local company that’s participating in a drive to help needy children get toys at Christmas.
The complaint went something along the lines of this: “You need to change your philanthropy: children need food, clothes and health care, not toys.”
It doesn’t matter that the charitable organization with whom the company partners also provides food and clothing; but because there was a mention of collecting toys, someone had to chime in and condemn the plan.
What, exactly, does that person do to help provide food, clothing and health care to children in need? They didn’t bother to mention any alternative organizations to whom one might donate in their complaint. They just decided to pan someone else’s idea.
I recall an appearance by Bob Barker on CNN’s Larry King Live in which he was speaking about his long-running campaign for animal rights. A viewer called in to ask a biting question: “With all of the problems in the world, don’t you think it’d be better to support charities that help people?”
Barker immediately turned the question on her: he asked if she contributes to charities that help people.
You could hear the tone in her voice change to one of righteous indignation as she said, “I certainly do. I raised three —.”
Excuse me, what? She raised three children? Sorry, ma’am, but that’s not charitable work for humans in need. That’s called doing your job as a parent. If you’re going to have kids, raising them is your responsibility. If you find that you don’t have the resources, you may well benefit from organizations that help people. But you don’t get to proclaim your own “charitable work” for people by raising your own children.
She went on to say that she donates to organizations that help people.
Barker said he did, too. (And I suspect that with Barker’s longtime income from his work in television, he donates a lot more than this ignorant viewer ever did.) But he went on to say that there aren’t nearly as many people working to help animals.
Which brings me back to the complaint about collecting toys for kids in need: there are groups that provide food and clothing for families who need them. There are groups that provide health care for children whose families can’t afford them.
If buying a toy for a child who otherwise might have nothing under the Christmas tree seems like such a waste of money to you, no matter how bright that child’s face might be on Christmas morning, then by all means donate food or clothes or something more “practical.”
But if these folks who like to nitpick other people’s good intentions would spend their time donating rather than criticizing how others are trying to help, there’d be that much less need out there to begin with.
It’s a shame that for some people, it’s so easy to forget that.