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Posts Tagged ‘charity’

NTKOG #113: The kind of deeply altruistic girl who floods the streets with her tears for orphans, kittens, orphaned kittens, etc., then writes checks to ballast her compassion.

I am: too broke to make more than one or two carefully considered contributions a year.

I am not: virtuous enough to make the sacrifices that would allow me to give more. Regret to inform, I’m more or less pulling a solid B+/A- in “being a basically good human being”.

The Scene: The little town square across the street from my work in the pouring rain last Wednesday. Weather forecasters had called for several inches of snow (never showed up) and we were all grimly excited about the blizzard; no greeting was complete without a “whew, it’s going to be a rough one”.

As I walked past, a Save The Children volunteer beckoned me near. His hair and beard were already plastered down to his face. I started my standard response: “I admire what you’re doing, but I’m just really broke,” and the guy smiled at me like I’d just bought his mom a new car.

“Don’t worry about it!” he grinned. “I don’t need money. Just thirty seconds of your time.” When you look at the words they seem banal, but his face was limpid and radiant — even as water flumed down the side of his nostrils he remained serene as a mountain, transparent and bottomless as a freshwater pool. Even his face moving to form words looked like nothing more than the wind rippling sweet meadow grasses. Real Pocahontas-style voodoo shit, is what I’m saying, and I knew immediately that he was deeply religious but one of those dudes who never brings it up unless you ask and doesn’t think you’re going to hell, not even if you have sex with robots and punch foreign dignitaries.

He gave me a lightning-round history of Save The Children, talked about their low corporate overhead, showed me pictures of some kids in the Congo, then checked his watch. Exactly thirty seconds.

“Dude,” I smiled at him. “I’ll bet people are awful to you sometimes, aren’t they? I always see people shouting, ‘Save the children? I want to eat the children!’ and stuff like that.”

“Oh, I love those people!” he grinned with genuine enthusiasm. “When they tell me they want to eat the children, I ask them to come over and swap recipes with me. When they tell me they hate the children, I say I’ll sell them a black market slave child! You just can’t take yourself too seriously. I love those people.”

I don’t know what happened but somehow, magically, my Visa was in my hands. As the man took my information, he told me about atrocities in the Congo and what the program’s money was doing. And, I dunno, a particle of dust must have wormed its way in or something, ’cause my eyes started to emit a transparent salty liquid.

After he handed me back my form and card, and had thanked me a few times, I took one last look at his drenched skin and clothes. Really sucks having to be out in this weather all day, I told him — and what about when the blizzard hits?

“Oh, we’re not supposed to be out here today. The company is closed. But I woke up excited this morning. I knew I had to come out here no matter how bad the weather was, just in case someone needed to hear what I had to say.”

Oh jesus. My eyes. They’re malfunctioning.

The Verdict: Made a one-time donation and have vowed to myself that if my temp job becomes permanent, I’ll set up a recurring monthly payment. Pretty psyched about the research I’ve done about this particular organization. That said, I take absolutely zero credit for pretending to be a good person on this one. This guy was a thinly disguised angel in Converse, and the next time I see him out there, I’m bringing him a cup of coffee to thank him for helping me keep my faith in people. And to warm him up ’cause, dude, it is cold out there to have a canvassing job.

This post too chipper for you? I know! Vom! Balance it out by checking out Secret Society of List Addicts and reading my list of phrases I would be perfectly okay never hearing again (and will punch you repeatedly if you say to me).

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NTKOG #6: The kind of girl who, upon seeing homeless people begging in the street, promptly gifts them with a warm, nourishing meal.

I am: a warm-hearted bleeding liberal, and try to keep my eyes open to suffering in my community. When I see homeless people, I try to weigh my current financial situation against my desire to give, and spare a dollar or two, at least.

I am not: perfect about this, by any means, though. At the end of the day, I know the dollars I dispense are just tiny hits of anesthesia to numb me to over-powering white/affluent guilt.

The Scene: Walking to my sister’s from my new apartment, I passed a kosher deli, in front of which stood a large, sad-eyed woman with an adorable toddler on her hip. “Can you spare a few dollars?” she asked me, her eyes liquid with self-pity. “I just need to get something into their stomachs.” She gestured with her head over to another child, a few years older, hunched on the deli’s stoop.

“Of course,” I tell her, reaching into my wallet for three dollars. As she tells me “God bless you,” I am transfixed by her crumbling brown teeth: some are missing, others turned sideways, and all looking as though they are at war with each other. This is the mouth, if not the face, of institutionalized poverty.

As I walk onward, the afterglow of white-guilt assuagement is short-lived. For only a few dollars, what can she get those poor children? They need a real meal, something warm and lasting. My options are few: a sushi place, a Kosher bakery, a Pita Pit. I stop in the latter, then walked back out. Children are picky, maybe even starving children, and after going several days without eating, who knows what hell exotic mediterranean fare might wage on their angry intestines.

A burger joint comes into view. Surely just the thing! I stop inside and order four kids’ burgers and two cartons of french fries. As I wait for the fresh patties to grill up, I am alternately plagued with worry that by the time I return, they will be gone (but how far can a mother and her two starving toddlers walk? and where else do they have to go?), and visited by happy fantasies of the mother clutching the greasy bag to her chest, thanking me with tears in her eyes. (“Don’t be stupid. You’re not a saint. You’re just doing this for a dumb blog.”)

Finally the order is ready and I rush back to the deli. I don’t spot the family at first, then notice the same beautiful, sad toddler on the hip of her equally mouth-decayed father. I hand him the bag, “These are for you.”

“Thank you so much! God bless you,” he says. “My wife is inside trying to order. Would you believe we are only three dollars short of what we ordered?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any more cash.”

“No, no, you have already helped us so much. God bless you.”

The Verdict: After handing off the meal, I stop on the corner of the block across the street from the deli to shuffle in my purse for my phone. I feel a warm glow of pleasure — even moreso because the thanks were fairly understated. I peek back over my shoulder to see if the children are already eating the burgers and see the husband, leading the kids to a car in the deli’s parking lot.

Peering through shrubbery, I watch him toss the bag of burgers into the backseat and strap the toddler into a carseat, then buckle his son into the front. After a moment, the mother comes out of the deli, holding a large bag of food. They pull out of the parking lot, and, giving up any attempt at subterfuge, I run after them.

They are driving a spotless white 2007 Nissan, with current DMV tags. CURRENT DMV TAGS! I follow the car a few blocks through the stately, tree-lined neighborhood, but they finally lose me.

I guess I should have stopped at that sushi place after all. Hope I didn’t offend the little tykes with such pedestrian fare as burgers.

So Am I That Kind of Girl? The kind of girl I am right now is friggin’ incredulous — too much so to even be properly incensed. I snuffled indignantly the whole walk home. But even though this was a bit eye-opening, it wasn’t enough to permanently tourniquet my bleeding liberal heart. Still, next time, instead of shelling out $$$ for burgers, I’m going to just keep a stash of PowerBars in my purse to get my feeding-the-hungry fix without running too big a risk.

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