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Old    Adam Van Dyke (lfadam)      Join Date: Nov 2008       12-20-2011, 8:47 PM Reply   
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.

Thoughts?
Old    Jeremy (wake77)      Join Date: Jan 2009       12-21-2011, 5:57 AM Reply   
I agree that there were probably many taking advantage of the good deeds of the Salvation Army. Something I think of, though, is how many of the people you saw with new smart phones or getting into new cars were probably dead broke because of their priorities. In America, most think life will not continue without a cell phone, and not just the free phone you get, but you have to have a Droid, Iphone, etc. You have to be able to call, text, but most importantly, update your status on Facebook. Or you can't just have ample, reliable transportation that will get you from point A to point B, but you have to have a 25,000.00 used car that you are being charged 15% interest for the loan. It's a travesty to think that a person would rather impress their friends as opposed to providing for their kids.

I commend you for your service and I think you should take away that you were able to aid in providing many kids with a Christmas regardless of what their ill-guided parents did or how they acted.
Old    Michael Hunter (mhunter)      Join Date: Mar 2008       12-21-2011, 7:04 AM Reply   
The cost of vehicles and phones is irrelevant when somebody else is paying .
Old    Jason Buffalow (buffalow)      Join Date: Apr 2002       12-21-2011, 7:46 AM Reply   
Jeremy, You just need to get involved in some other charities. There are tons out there that offer real help to needy people. You did a good thing and that's it. I realize it is disheartening, but that is the state of many of these programs. Like watching someone at the grocery store with food stamps buy hot dogs, diapers and cigarettes for the week. Make you crazy
Old    Darrel F (95sn)      Join Date: Sep 2005       12-21-2011, 11:10 AM Reply   
Good or Bad...Props to you for volunteering.
Old    Train (ttrigo)      Join Date: Dec 2004       12-21-2011, 12:46 PM Reply   
its a bummer, but a reality of our society today.
for years, I used to donate to United Way through work, and I would volunteer to work with the kids a couple of times a year. these were supposed to be the "less fortunate" kids, who came from broken homes, single parents, etc. one day, one of the kids was late getting to the park where we were gathered for the day, and they were dropped off by BOTH parents. the parents were in a brand new escalade. I asked one of the United Way people about this, and how the kids were screened. he had no answer for me. that was my last day volunteering, or donating any money to that foundation. when you have no idea where your money goes, or if the kids are actually "needy", you lose a lot of your passion for it. all of mine was taken in an instant by the lying parents, and the foundation that had no clue.

nowadays, I donate most of my volunteer hours to beach cleanup, or at the local YMCA, where I can actually see a difference, and I know who the programs are dealing with personally.
Old    Mik (norcalrider)      Join Date: Jun 2002       12-21-2011, 1:08 PM Reply   
I was once told there is poverty in every income bracket. Sounds like a bunch of people maxing themselves out to live a lifestyle that they cannot sustain.

Too bad the charity isn't going to those most in need and probably too prideful to ask for help.

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