On Giving

Have you ever done something you felt good about?  Like, hey, maybe you gave money to save a kitten from the wrath of Alice.  And then someone else comes along and says, “Well, you know, those kittens misuse those funds.  Just the other day, I saw a kitten with a brand new catnip toy.”  It’s like you had this cool new balloon and someone just went and stuck a pin in it.  Cause you know, balloons will just deflate anyway, right?  Look how they helped you out there!

Haha, suckers!

You can’t trust kittens.

I’ve had this experience a lot of times.  In case you didn’t know, I’m generally a very cheap person.  There’s a reason for this.  I’m also a fairly poor person, so the cheapness thing really works well there.  But sometimes I try to give to a good cause.  When I was a kid, I liked giving to the Angel Tree fund.  You’d pick an angel off the tree with the name of some kid who needed new clothes.  And you bought the clothes and wrapped them up and gave them to the Salvation Army people, and then those guys gave them to the ones in need.  Some kid got new clothes!  Yay, me, I helped.

That feel good feelin'.

That feel good feelin’.

At least I thought I did, until one day a friend told me, “Well, you know, they return those clothes and then use the money on something else.  Like watches.”  Like, ZOMG, really?  That’s horrible!  They took money I freely gave, not expecting anything in return, and. . . and. . . they bought a new watch?  Holy crapsters!  Poor people don’t need to know what time it is!  All they gotta do is sit back and watch the welfare checks pour in.

Alice, you jerk.

Alice, you jerk.

Oh, yeah, cause that’s the life, you know.  Here’s a secret.  I took government “hand-outs” once.  It was for purely selfish reasons.  I wanted to feed my kids.  I know, right?  I was proud, and I didn’t like going to those appointments on the “bad side of town.”  It sure as heck wasn’t convenient.  You had to have documentation, and you had to bring your kid to get her finger pricked (Four-year-old Thing One yelled “My haaaand, my haaaand” when they pricked hers), and sometimes you were there for hours.  But I was at home with my kids then, because I felt that was the best place for me to be.  Oh, yeah, and because if I’d had a job, the salary would have all gone to daycare.  That too.

But, Alice, if you didn’t have enough money, you shouldn’t have had children!  It’s your own fault!  Maybe it was my fault.  But it wasn’t their fault.  So I sucked it up, and I got a card for food, and I bought government juice and cheese and eggs.  One day I had a cart loaded with the stuff, and saw the lady behind me watching.  I felt embarrassed until she said, “I’m glad my money goes to help sweet little families like yours.”

That comment cost her nothing.  But it made me cry.  She could have looked at it an entirely different way.  She could have poked a hole in my already partially deflated balloon.  But she saw it another way.  She saw giving the way I see it.  I work full-time now.  My kids are older.  We are hardly rolling in dough, but we can get by, so even though it might smart a little, I’m glad the government takes money out of my check.  Because once I needed that little bit of help, and now others need it.  Believe me, very few people are getting rich off of handouts.  If they are, I have to commend them.  Those panhandlers stand there day after day, asking everyone who comes by for a dime.  I figure they earn their money at least as well as most people with office jobs do, especially when roughly 80 percent of their time is spent facebooking.

 Not that I know anyone who does that.

I'm totally workingggg!

I’m totally workingggg!

People are going to judge, no matter what.  I know people might have wondered how someone who needed help buying groceries could afford a decent car.  What they didn’t know was that my bleeding heart liberal parents sold it to me well below cost.  And I spent my tax return on it.  My parents have worked hard their entire lives.  No one gave them help.  They put themselves through college.  They worked, they saved.  But my father said, “I worked hard, and no one helped me.  So I want to use my check to help other people.  That’s how it is supposed to work.”

That’s how it is supposed to work.  Isn’t that what most religions talk about?  Tis better to give than to receive?  I know Jesus was totally out there going, hey, hey, wait a second, where’s my take?  Here I go and give you guys a fish dinner, and do I get anything?  Well, see if I help you jerks out anymore!

I'm not giving you guys any more muffins.

I’m not giving you guys any more muffins.

Yeah, no, he just gave to people.  And he didn’t check their credentials first.  He didn’t go, “Hey, stop stoning that lady!  She . . . oh, wait, she’s a prostitute.  Go on ahead.  Don’t mind me!” He helped her.  He helped lepers.  When a man asked how he could get to Heaven, Jesus said, “Give all your money to the poor, and follow me.”  And yet, I see so many religious people who oppose welfare and government programs for the poor.  Guess what?  Jesus wrote me, and he thinks you guys who vote against that stuff suck.

Not really, Jesus wouldn’t do that.  He’s too nice.  But I’m not.  If you never, ever help anyone without expecting something in return, you suck.  If you gripe when people raise money to help out someone in need, you suck.  Once you give, you give.  It is no longer in your hands.  They can do with it what they will.  What they do has no effect on what you did.  You still gave of yourself.  You still did the right thing.

For what else are we on this planet for, if not to help one another?

67 responses

  1. Well said. Too many cynics in this world.

    1. Yeah, I’m cynical enough for most of them, don’t need anymore help.

  2. Thank you.

  3. Good post, I agree. Once a woman in our neighborhood needs a new washer and got the money from our welfare agency. Instead to buy a new washer, she bough a used one and spend the rest for christmas gifts for her kids. Now some of our neighbors say she wasted the support and she is a bad mom. I don’t think so. Her kids had a good christmas and that’s what they will remember, not a new washer.

    1. Right. I have used appliances. She did get a washer. I think she was actually pretty smart to get one used.

  4. Amen Sister Alice, you tell ’em! 🙂

    I agree that we all need to lend a hand when we’re able and not judge others for needing help. I am kind of picky about which organizations I’ll give my money to – those fuckers are shady. But when it comes to helping folks, I’m right there with you.

    1. Exactly. Organizations can be tricky. You have to research because you want one that gives the majority of the money to the ones in need, rather than administrative costs, etc. But just giving, that’s good, even if you are cheap like me. 😀

      1. My favorite Christmas memory as an adult was before Josh and I got married and we were having a late dinner on Christmas Eve at Village Inn. There was a woman sitting in one of the booths, obviously homeless and almost certainly hungry. We told our waitress to ask the woman what she’d like for dinner and we would be more than happy to take care of it. It really just seemed like the right thing to do.

        1. That was such a sweet thing to do! I love it.

  5. Get filthy rich and retire young so I can spend the second half of my life wasting away on a beach?
    Isn’t that the American dream I’m supposed to be striving for?

    1. No.
      The dream is to spend two thirds of your life on the beach.

      1. Dang… I’ve already missed it then.

      2. No, no, you’re both wrong! You’re suppose to get rich early (or inherit it – that’s the best way) and then buy a bad hairpiece and run for political office making sure no one else can make any money too. That’s the best thing!

  6. Ooh, we love Angel Tree ! =) We do the Shoeboxes at Christmas time as well, and often give cat food and litter to the local shelter. My daughter grocery shops with me when we buy extra bags for the local shelter and we used to sponsor a child, until she moved out of the program. My life is richer for these small things, and my daughter learned that giving a bit of help an a smile makes us happy.

    I respect the fact that we all are entitled to our own opinions, and am glad that I read so many blogs by people who tend to share some similar sentiments. Have a lovely day ! =)

    1. You know, i bet my kids would love the giving to the shelter thing! They love cats and dogs, but we can’t have one because of my allergies. We’ll have to try that.

      You have a lovely day too. 😀

      1. Yeah, we cannot have pets so we assuage our furry-love cravings by loving on them and bringing them food and stuff, too. =) Really fun way to spend a rainy afternoon. =) Especially if there is coffee at the end for us mummas ! =)

        1. That’s so sweet! We might get a turtle. No fur. You just have to remember to use the old hand cleaner.

          1. What a great idea… they are sweet, but leave a little to be desired in the cuddling department. =) I am thinking a moray eel… not much snuggle potential there, either. =)

  7. Give and receive as you see fit.
    If someone doesn’t approve, that’s their problem.

    1. Very true. I know you to be a very giving soul, Guap, and that’s pretty cool.

      1. Nah, depends on the cause. You’ve just seen me around good ones.

        (Come after my sandwich, and we will dance.)
        (Probably in that cool Michael Jackson – Beat It video way.)
        (Oh! Or the Weird Al version where they’re holding a rubber chicken!)
        (Yeah! Lets do that one!)

  8. YAY!!! Me and my sisters were raised on food stamps and government cheese. I think people should be more upset their tax dollars are going towards paying Congressional salaries….

    1. No kidding. There’s no telling what those freaks use that money for – I bet no one checks their receipts!

  9. These are excellent points. I would still owe medical bills if Medicaid didn’t pay for the emercency C-section I needed when I had my son. That may be too much information, but hey – it helps illustrate your point.
    To break it down, my son & I could’ve died, but we didn’t because of that medical care.
    So yea, people that help are awesome. & Those that vote against it & just view us as “people taking handouts” are stupid. Really stupid. Educate yourselves, pricks – have some humanity.

    & P.S. Now everytime I see a picture of Jesus I’m going to envision him talking about muffins. 😛

    1. I’m so glad you were able to get the help you needed for your medical bills. I actually relied on a charity program to be able to pay off my hospital stay a while back. Two nights in the hospital came to something like 12,000 dollars. Insurance paid 7,000, which left me with 5 K. No way could I pay that, at least not without making payments for 25 years. So I gave them all my documentation, and got it cut 80 percent. Thank goodness for that program. Not every hospital has it.

      He totally looks like he’s holding a muffin to me. What is that in his hand?

      1. Thankfully, I don’t need it anymore. It’s good to know it’s still there, though because I know it literally saves lives.
        I’m glad things worked out for you too. No one wants to paying extra bills forever & ever.

        & It’s a heart-shaped muffin. 😉

        1. Heart shaped muffins are the best kind. I wonder if it’s bran. Then it’d be good for you too!

          1. I dig banana muffins. Now I want coffee & a muffin. lol

  10. I hear a lot conservatives (*cough*FoxNews*cough*) love to point out how people scam the system, but I’d be willing to bet my measly paycheck that the majority of the people who receive government benefits and charity donations are people who truly need it. Even if it’s 50/50, I’d still rather see my tax dollars going to the “entitlement” programs than to rely on the wealthy’s “goodwill” to donate to their causes.

    1. Yeah, no kidding. I love how they say they donate and that’s enough. I’m sure there are some wealthy people who do donate, but that’s nowhere near enough to help the many, many people out there who are struggling. And people scamming the system? Good grief, the amount of paperwork one has to fill out for that stuff – over and over and over again. You’d have to be insane to really want to do that when you didn’t need it. Dealing with bureaucracy is a job in itself.

      I believe the Fox News motto for charity is “Let them eat cake.”

  11. Amen to this!! I’ve been in need and I don’t know what I would have done had some not helped at the time. It’s humbling but a true gift at the same time.

    1. Same here, Zoe. And thank you again for what you’ve done raising money for a dear friend who would never ask for anything herself. It is a good feeling to see that we can make a difference.

      1. It’s a true pleasure. It really is a good feeling. We’ve all done it together not just me. xo

  12. There’s got to be some balance between us going all Judgy McJudgy on some poor young woman with food stamps at the grocery store who’s trying to feed her kids, and another young woman who won $500,000 in the lottery and was still on food stamps.

    We want money to get where it is truly needed and deserved, with the minimum going to admin. Frankly, I think the government is just about at the bottom of the list as far as doing that effectively.

    Having said that, I look at the experience of one of my sisters. Her husband left her with 2 little kids. She took aid while she went back to college and got her degree, in social work. She ended up on the other side of the desk down at the food stamp office, and was uniquely qualified to balance compassion with a realistic eye.

    Very well said, and a great reminder to all of us of the importance of helping others.

    1. Good point. The government could be more effective in getting aid to people, but it’s still better than what you’d get if people were only left to their own devices. Considering the idiots in public office, I’m just thankful for what we do have – or what we had. What little is given people is never guaranteed. That’s why it’s important to vote, even if it’s for the lesser of two evils.

      I’m sure your sister was uniquely qualified for her job, and I wish there were more like her.

  13. I love this, Alice. And this, Once you give, you give. It is no longer in your hands. They can do with it what they will.” So well said. What goes around comes around. People can be so quick judge. I always think it’s not my place.

  14. gentlestitches | Reply

    I like the readings of Jesus. Inclusion and love. I also like your thoughts on “no strings” gifts. It isn’t a gift if the gifter doesn’t let go. 😀

    1. Yes, I think if Christians just read the red print in their Bibles and ignored a lot of the rest, we’d all be a lot better off.

  15. gentlestitches | Reply

    good point! 🙂

  16. Damn freakin’ right, Alice. When my kid was in the hospital, we got state insurance b/c he was an infant at risk (and we had primary and secondary insurance too) and it helped with all the co-pays we were paying on a daily basis – and we got a very small check from SSI for 6 months – it was only $30, but when each day is costing you an extra $50-$100, you are grateful for anything to help defray the costs. We worked hard and we needed some help – simple as that. People were so kind to us when our son was in the hospital – people I didn’t’ even know, friends with other family members, brought us food, helped with repairs around the house – it was amazing. Only when I was bringing my son to the doc and had to show my state insurance card, did the people working behind the desk make me feel like I was some kind of ignorant, greedy taker. It was crazy watching how differently they spoke to me than to other people there… it made me want to rip out my diploma and scream in their faces – I have a goddamn degree, lady – don’t talk to me like I didn’t graduate 6th grade! But I maintained my cool, because, what can you do? And it was for my kid.

    Anyway – I’m glad you ran into someone that gave you kind words – because people typically think it’s their job to tear you down. And so many people can be lifted with just a kind word of love.

    Kisses and all that mush –

    1. Oh, man, I so identify with the wanting to rip out your diploma for these people! I wanted to do it every time I used my WIC stuff. Interestingly, the snottiest people were the ones at the Farmer’s Market! Like, yello, you’re still getting paid. Sheesh.

      1. Nice – the one’s about the world and environment are the snottiest… sigh..

        1. I asked the hospital once if I could have help on a bill (had like 1,000 left after insurance on an emergency room bill) and they told me “No, we can’t help you. Because you have insurance.” Wait, wtf???

          1. When my son was in the hospital and we had 3 insurances – I thought that the primary would pay X, then the 2ndary would pay Y and the 3rd would take up the slack…
            But nope -they all made claims for the total amount, I and would have to STILL make the co-pays until my MIL (who works with that stuff) took over the EOBs and worked with the diff ins companies and the hospital/doctors’ offices. What a freakin’ SCAM that all the insurance co had going.

          2. Between the insurance not wanting to pay and the hospital charging 200 bucks for an aspirin, it’s ridiculous. You pretty much either have to have nothing, or be wealthy to pay your medical bills.

          3. Right? Our kid’s stay in the NICU was about $10K PER day – not including the docs’ visits. We were lucky to have kick ass insurance at that time… we’d be bankrupt if it happened within the last couple of years.

          4. Yes! And that’s what a lot of people don’t realize. Most of us are just one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. Which is why we need an overhaul in health care. I know a lot don’t like Obama’s plan, and it did get messed up with all the time it took to pass it, but I wish the politicians against it would come up with their own plan in that case. What an idea.

          5. I know only too well how much people are against The Affordable Care Act – but without it, if I lost my insurance, my son would never get covered on a private plan. It’s horrible – through no fault of his own, he’d be stuck.

            I often feel I’m a disaster away from bankruptcy, and I’ve been working non-stop since I was in high school.

          6. Yeah I was like how long till retirement? And a friends said “That’s if we still have SS.” Oh, thanks I feel so much better now!

          7. I’m living on a wing and a prayer – and the hopes that my kid is some sort of money-making genius, else we got nothing.

          8. We can be in the old librarian’s home together.

          9. We need that 🙂 They might reject me since I don’t actually work in a library anymore… will you save a place for me and fake my papers?

          10. No problem, what’s a degree for, right?

  17. All you said is true. My parents have helped us out for years, although the strings have been slow in unattaching. 😉

    And I have been burned a time or two. The one that stings the most? I found out a friend down the street had lost electricity because they couldn’t afford it. She had 8 kids (from 4 different daddies – might have been an inherent problem in there somewhere, huh?) living in the house with her and her then husband. We were literally living hand-to-mouth since my husband’s layoff. He was painting houses for a living and we had already been to bankruptcy court (by far the worst day of my life).

    Anywho, I scrimped that month and paid the electric bill. A few days later she drove by my house and I was outside. She stopped and started complaining about not having any money, no food in the house, etc., then she told me a story about a friend giving her $20 … and … pulled out the $20 journal she had purchased with it from Starbucks. She brandished it as a gift from God! I almost threw up.

    Sorry, that pissed me off. It showed the utter selfishness of this woman (in 1996 $20 could at least buy 1 meal for the family, albeit at MacDonald’s). A few weeks later a church lady called me to ask about whether I knew the family. I said I did. She then proceeded to tell me that they had requested church funds to pay the electric bill (my friend’s husband had a job, but from my own life, I knew that a 1-person income with that many kids was sure to be tough). I told her they should do what they felt was right.

    The final blow: When a dear friend of mine lost her son in a plane crash this other “poor” friend down the road had this to say to me, “She didn’t pray hard enough for her son or he wouldn’t have died.” That was the last straw.

    Should I NOT have paid her electric bill? No, I still would do that and believe it was the right thing to do. But, maybe if this lady had ever been forced to live out of her car for a week or so, things might have changed (maybe). Unfortunately, what dumb parents do affects their children, duh! I didn’t deck her that day when she disparaged my friend, but I did stop helping her financially. I continue to support 2 kids through Compassion International, and that I will not stop doing. Meanwhile, I don’t turn a blind eye to the people around me in need, nor should we ever.

    1. Yes, I know about getting burned. It doesn’t change that what you did was good, as you said, but wow, some people. A 20 dollar journal? Say what? You can get one of those for a buck at the dollar tree! Or even less, buy a spiral notebook! Yeah, with that many kids at home, you really have to wonder. And the comment about “not praying hard enough”? That deserves a beat down. I think even Jesus would allow that since he really dislikes people using the Bible to be jerks.

      While you can’t always choose what your gift goes to, it does pain you when the person has children to support and doesn’t bother. That’s a tough one for me. That was one good thing about WIC. You had to buy only certain foods, nothing else, so at least crappy parents couldn’t use it on whatever they wanted. It seems clear this woman was scamming the church, which is a great shame since I know many people who really need that kind of support. Grrr.

      1. I know, exactly. We used WIC for many years and my kids were on a State health insurance for a time. Then when my husband lost his job in 2009 we received unemployment for a time (but that’s something you actually pay into yourself, so it’s kind of your money to begin with). Anyway, I know all about having to use the system at times. But you are right, my friend was MISusing whatever system she could. And it was irksome – Grrr!

        1. Yeah, funny story. A friend helped out this homeless young couple with a baby. She got the church to pay for a month’s rent on an apartment and a new refrigerator. They skipped town, so there was this refrigerator. Mine was failing and we had squat for money. So my friend said “Give it to Alice” and they did, and my husband was like “It won’t fit in the kitchen” and I’m like “wtf it’s a 600 dollar refrigerator. I’ll put it in the dang living room!” Goof. Anyway, it worked out well. 😀

  18. Living in a Religious Order I’m not able to financially support any organisations. However, there are three of us helping out with the local foodbank (foodbank4whitby.org.uk) in different ways, and two other sisters in another foodbank, where I helped out when I was on my Branch House experience.

    Most people needing to use a foodbank are in desperate need, but there are always going to be some who cheat the system – and actually, it’s probably a good think to know that there are, because we should use these people to help us improve the systems to make it more secure for those who do actually need the help.

    1. Right. Most of the ones who cheat aren’t really that brilliant about it. Some churches keep logs of who comes when and gets what, and check in with each other. On the other hand, those who steal from food pantries may have bigger problems than the ones who really need the food. I think you’d have to be messed up to do that.

      1. Yeah. The way it works here is that some sort of agency, such as Christians Against Poverty, help the person and provide them with the voucher for the food parcel. It’s to regulate it and also to try to help people get out of debt or away from the cause of the food poverty. There is a list that is circulated to the agencies by the food bank organisers of people who may have had more vouchers than the maximum, or who may be trying to cheat the system. I remember seeing a note on that list at a distribution centre which stated that one individual had managed to obtain two vouchers on the same day, from two organisations. That takes some doing, just to get 2 lots of 3 days worth of food, which when you total up the cost isn’t going to be much more than £20 ($28 I think).

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