Sam Ingram will love this...
Today I volunteered to help the Salvation Army with the Angel Tree program handing out free presents to families in need. I was excited to do some service and help out people who were in need and would be truly grateful for the great presents that were donated for the cause.
There were certainly some parents that fit that bill, there were hard workers that were almost in tears when they saw what was available for their children. However, for a majority, that was not the case.
I expected that there would be a handful of people taking advantage of the system...its hard to put a number on how many I saw...because I only could judge based off of 5 minutes spent with them and what they had with them...but I would guess that the number was well over a half...easily the majority. I saw mothers texting on their smart phones while waiting in line, and I helped one nice mom to her car, which was a ford expedition with TVs in the backs of the seats! There were some new cars with 30 day tags on the plates, and some crappy cars with aftermarket rims. Unbelievable.
And most of the parents there, while cordial, were pretty stoic through the whole process. They acted like they were grocery shopping..."meh, Ill get this...where is the checkout line...ok Im out." Didnt seem too excited or grateful. It was obvious that some were shy, maybe because of the language barrier (probably 2/3 were Hispanic). Luckily I speak pretty fluent Spanish which was one of the most fun parts of the experience, getting practice, and making them feel more comfortable/helping them out. But a few even had an entitlement problem going on. "I want a bike, I dont need this stuff, I need a bike." "Maam, the bikes are handed out at random (lottery system), theres nothing I can do...these are the toys I can get you." "I need a bike, get me a bike!"
Overall, it was a disheartening reminder that there really are way too many people taking advantage of programs to help the truly needy. Its a real shame because there are families that need and deserve it, so I dont want to abolish this kind of stuff, but I would much rather help people abroad in impoverished countries that I KNOW actually need the help. On one hand, Id like to help out Americans and our own country first...but this is the kind of stuff you run into...and stuff like Appalachian Service Project and the like, you are often helping people rebuild their 2 story houses! Theyre not that poor/needy. Thats what leads me to my current thinking...I have done a little service in Thailand when I was young where we were delivering soap, toothpaste, etc to villages that had kids running around naked and eating bugs for food. I feel like that was much more worthwhile.