I am a charitable person, though my resources are very limited. I am one careless night in a nudie bar from being homeless. In spite of my position near the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, I realize there are those below me. My heart goes out to those less fortunate than me.
Though I give for the satisfaction I receive in helping others (I wrote previously about my love of angel trees), I also want my gifts to be appreciated and used to benefit.
Once, as I was driving in Myrtle Beach, I saw a woman by the side of the road with a couple of kids (I am a sucker for dogs and kids) and a sign that said “we are hungry.” Well, of course I nearly crashed my vehicle going back to where they were standing. All I had in my wallet was a ten dollar bill, so I gladly gave it to the mother. She snatched it from my hand and didn’t say a word, not even a smile. I didn’t expect her to curtsey, but a “thank you” would have been nice, if only with her eyes. As I looked back, I saw her fold the ten spot into a large roll of bills that she removed from her tote bag.
I have given money to panhandlers that I am confident was instantly turned into crack or Thunderbird. So I have since changed my approach to philanthropy.
A man approached me Thursday night In front of the Food Lion (for northerners and foreigners that is a supermarket). He explained that he had been out of work for some time and asked if I could help him out. I asked him if he was hungry. I never want anyone to go hungry. He said no, he had gotten something to eat but needed some money to get a place to stay, gas, etc. I again asked if he needed something to eat, I would take him in and buy him some food. He declined and walked away. I had mixed emotions about that encounter. On one hand I felt that if I was destitute and someone offered food I would take gladly take it, even if I was not hungry at that moment. On the other hand, if I give him money, is it really any of my business what he does with it? Is the need for drugs or alcohol any less of a necessity than that for food? As I have never been addicted to either substance, I can never know.
I think instead of trying to micromanage the needy, I will limit my charity to organizations that benefit such people and let them sort it out. I will return to the angel tree this holiday season.