I think that we all want to help out. I believe that given the right circumstances and the right situations, we would all engage in some form of Tzedakah. Some of us give with our wallets and some of us give with our time. A friend of mine recently told me that she and her son are volunteering for a Habitat for Humanity build here in the city. She couldn't have been more excited, as she felt as though she was giving back in some small measure. My sister/cousin has been making food for Out of the Cold for years. She has roast beefs cooking in ovens all over the north Jewish ghetto at various times during the winter months. Not only does she purchase and prepare the food, she drags her butt out of bed before dawn to set up and serve. (This is often after working 4 or 5 straight shifts at work!!) I know people who walk for breast cancer and golf for hospital charities. I know individuals who donate their time and money to synagogue work and buildings. Many of us act as mentors or Big Brothers or Sisters. We all want to do our part. So why is it that it never seems like enough? I don't mean that there are too many problems in the world (which there are!) or that most organizations are grossly underfunded (which they are!)! I mean, why is it that no matter how much we give, we are always asked to give more? I speak in particular of the intrusion of charity calls on the phone or at the door!
We here in Canada have been rather slow at implementing the "Do Not Call" list intended to curb intrusive sales pitches. While this list will be up and running come September, (5 years after it was first established!!! Never let it be said that we Canadians do anything in haste!) there are several exemptions to the registry. Registered charities are among these exemptions. And while I understand that hospitals, medical organizations and food banks need our support, I think that I speak for most of us when I state that these charities are more likely to get my help if they don't call my house. This includes the inevitable door to door pitch! Several years ago, it was revealed in a major newspaper investigation here in the Big Smoke, that a good chunk of what is donated to a charity is actually used for administration costs. It dramatically changed the way that many of us donate to Tzedakah projects. In our house, we became much more discerning about our charitable donations. We will not give to those charities that solicit over the phone. I know that this sounds harsh and crass, but unless they will agree to send us literature, they are off of our giving radar. We have had several instances of double charging credit cards and hounding phone calls at dinner, and thus have turned off of the phone guys. It doesn't seem to help that we have call display. These interlopers have stayed one step ahead of us by blocking their numbers. We will not give to any organization that uses an automated calling system. If I have to yell "Hello" into the phone more than once, we hang up!! We will not give to the door to door guys, no matter how cute, young or deserving their charity. I think that it is the height of impudence, (not to mention danger) to send a 12 year old out door to door to collect money for Jerry's Kids! That is why it is with a great deal of sadness that I opened the door this afternoon to two young women collecting money for The Hospital for Sick Children. This is a hospital that is most deserving of my dollars, but the door to door pitch turned me off. I can't explain why it felt sleazy, but it did!
I will give to any friend who is walking, cycling, jogging, golfing, knitting and the like for a good cause. (I am a really soft touch!) I will give to any organization that is supportive of good works the world over, provided that I am reassured that all that I donate goes directly to the people that need it. I will volunteer my time and money to any organization that I have been or am still associated with, provided that I am convinced of the efficacy of the group's long term goals. I don't require recognition and I don't require a trinket like a lapel pin. I just want to know that my time and money are being well-spent on those that need it most.
Please know that I understand how truly blessed I am. I want to help and I am more than willing to help. I just resent being browbeaten into helping. I will sign up for the "Do Not Call" List as soon as it is available. My hope is that charities take a bit more care in how they solicit. I truly believe that they would be further ahead.