Sir Henry Taylor
He who gives only what he would as readily throw away, gives without generosity; for the essence of generosity is in self-sacrifice.


Wow! Sir Henry Taylor comes down pretty hard on thrift shop donations but then recycling and environmental waste were not topics of the 19th century.  Looking at the choice between throwing something in the landfill or giving it to a charitable organization to sell, certainly the preferred option would be to donate it.  Would it not?  Perhaps Taylor was aiming deeper than that though.  Perhaps he was looking at the motive behind the action.  Does the giver give in a sincere effort to help another human being (or even the earth’s condition) or do they call for a pick up or drop items off because it is easier or more convenient than hauling the items to the dump or paying for their disposal?

VSL2San Felpe has many segundos which is Spanish for second hand or thrift shop.  Some are more like continuous yard sales others like the one run by Voluntarios Sin Limites (Volunteers Without Limits) are set up to help raise funds to support a cause.  In this case the proceeds go to the purchase of food and water for those in dire need and to help families with children living with severe disabilities, i.e. cerebral encephalitis, paralysis, Downs syndrome, dysmorphia, epilepsy, and loss of vision.  Each month they distribute very basic food packages to about 400-500 people (beans, rice, flour, supplemented with eggs, oil or powdered milk when possible), .  They also try to supply nutritional drinks (like Ensure), disposal diapers and wipes to the disabled children, elderly and handicapped.  Sales of these donated items help pay for a small portion of these necessities.

So donating unwanted things is good, yes?  Yes and no.  Donating functioning items that are likely to be useful to someone else is a good thing.  Donating broken electronics, that have been found to be not worth fixing or so obsolete that you can’t get parts, is just  shifting the burden of disposal to someone else.  If you could not fix an item, it is not likely that the charity you are donating it to has the resources to get it fixed either.  If you have lost weight or are just bored with your clothing and it still looks nearly new, then they would probably be a bargain purchase by someone of limited means.  If you have worn your favorite shirt until it is threadbare and falling apart, it isn’t likely someone else is going to buy it.

Similar consideration should be taken when donating food items.  If the package is open or can damaged.  Toss it away, don’t donate it. If it is past the recommended date for consumption most organizations will not distribute it for human consumption.  It just isn’t wise or safe.  You could ask around to see if someone is willing to take it to feed their livestock.

Geovanny is young boy who has lost his hand.  VSL is working to connect the parents with the Shriner's Hospital for help.

Geovanny is young boy who has lost his hand. VSL is working to connect the parents with the Shriner’s Hospital for help.

So how can you help?  Seriously?  Be generous.  Give a little or lot, but give it on a regular basis.  Organizations like Volunteers Without Limits have ongoing monthly expenses, just like you.   Even though all the staff are volunteers and receive no salary, they still have rent, electricity, water, fuel and auto upkeep (they deliver to 40 elderly shut-ins twice a month), and each week they need to purchase food and travel vouchers for trips to take children to the hospital or doctor in Mexicali or Tijuana.  They need a steady income of about $1500 dollars each month to carry on.  Fund-raising events once or twice a year just don’t cover these expenses for the entire year.  They depend on the monthly contributions of their faithful contributors to keep things going during the in-between times.

Giving doesn’t need to hurt a lot to make a difference.  Go to the website of your favorite organization today and set up a re-occuring donation  with Paypal.  Sacrificing the cost of one latte a week could make a $20 a month pledge become a reality.  If each one of the us who willingly spends $15-$30 for a dinner out did this, there would be no more need for silent auctions and raffles. We could just get together to relax and enjoy each other’s company.  Odds are that if I came to your business or house personally as said “Hey, I need $20 to buy food for the folks down the street who are out of work,” you would reach in your pocket without hesitation.  Why not do that now by setting up an automatic donation each month?  Hours spent by volunteers putting together fund-raising activities could then be devoted to actually carrying on the work that needs to be done.  Maybe visiting with a lonely widow or teaching a young child English.  Who knows what could be accomplished instead?  Do it now – let’s see what happens!