Monday, November 23, 2009

Gift or Guilt?

How do you feel about charities?

This is the time of year when we're bombarded with requests for donations from food banks, The Salvation Army, and a slew of other organizations.

Nothing wrong with giving. In fact, it's a wonderful thing to do. The problem is there are too many charities and each person's wallet only holds so much. And that's where GUILT comes in.

Every time I visit my local grocery store, I'm forced to walk past The Salvation Army bell ringer. There he is ringing his bell and we all know what that means. I know what it means. But my focus is on filling up my grocery cart with needed items. "Maybe I'll toss some money into the kettle on my way out", I think to myself. And sometimes I do. Believe me, I do. But the problem is I'm at that grocery store quite frequently during the week. That means I have to encounter the bell ringer on numerous occasions. I can't contribute every single time. But IF I have to walk past him without donating some coins, I feel guilty. Ah, the guilt!

It's gotten so I've had to figure out some sneaky ways to outfox him. If he's at the left hand entrance to the store, I enter via the right hand side. (Even if I have to walk all around to the other side of the parking lot.) And of course I do the same thing when I'm exiting. Crafty, yes, but effective.

Then I'm riddled with guilt twofold. First, I've failed to give a donation. Second, I've chosen stealth to avoid giving a donation (or being detected).

But if my mounting guilt should get the best of me one of these days, I see only one solution. I'll just race up to the bell ringer with a big smile on my face, open up my purse and spill every last dollar and cent into his kettle. "Merry Christmas!"

Heck, I'll even throw in the purse. And my hat. And my gloves. And my coat.

Free of guilt at last!


  1. I hope I've warded off the guilt demons for at least a while. I got home from the grocery store yesterday only to discover they hadn't charged me for the Thanksgiving turkey. Karma being what it is - and me having plenty of bad lately - I hopped back in the car and paid for that bird straightaway. They were quite impressed.

    Of course on my way out I breezed past the bell ringer with nary a look his way.

  2. I know just what you mean. But I try to talk myself out of the guilt, because I know I've already given down the street, or sent something in the mail, or given of my time. And no one can be expected to give to all.

    I'll think of you next time I see a bell ringer. ;)

  3. I know we can't be expected to give to all, but that doesn't stop me from feeling guilty.

    And there are people out there who really know how to lay the guilt on in commercials, direct mail letters, radio announcements, etc.

    Some day I should volunteer to be a bell ringer just to see what it's like on their end of it!

  4. I give when I can, and sometimes in ways other than money - mittens for a church tree collection, canned food donations, that sort of thing. I guess we do the best we can, and wish for the best!

  5. I have an alternate solution for you (in lieu of donating your purse): volunteer to be one of those bell-ringers. They can always use more. I'm looking into it in my community.

  6. "Some day I should volunteer to be a bell ringer just to see what it's like on their end of it!" ^

    Yes, SLC, that's what I said upthread. Actually, I just saw a news item about that recently. The guy said they've had to turn people away this year for bell ringing. Apparently it pays minimum wage. In past years many people would not do it for minimum wage, but they will now in this poor economy.

  7. If you have to give because of guilt, then don't. But when you give out of compassion, then it doesn't matter if you give once or than once on a given day. You just feel at peace with yourself. It doesn't have to be around the holidays. When you stop your car the next time at an intersection, just look at a homeless guy, bent with age, in rags, holding up the sign 'I'm homeless, loveless, penniless, godless'. Then listen to your heart.

  8. A very nice response, Khanh Ha. Thank you.