We’re just coming off 4 months of volunteering everyday in our community for hurricane Sandy relief. With our faithful volunteers we spent our days in the distribution center serving our neighbors; listening, helping, finding resources and filling boxes with supplies for their make shift kitchens. We received $58,000 ($35 from Robin Hood/12-12-12- concert) in donations and then dispensed 100% to families in need.
It was exhausting work as anyone else involved in recovery who we worked with can tell you. The work put our own lives on hold and our 8 kids ‘normal’ was very disrupted. But that disruption was nothing in comparison to what the people we saw everyday were going through.
Back in the beginning of February we saw a real slowing down of volunteers and donations. Which honestly we knew was going to happen. Actually it really happened much sooner, but the surplus of supplies kept us going.
Its the nature of disaster that the initial surge of help lasts only a few short weeks and once people have contributed once or twice they go back to their lives feeling they have done their part.
For our disaster, Christmas became the seal of finality for most people. The push for toys became the frenzy with sheer panic that maybe a child might not have gifts under the tree. Once the holiday was over, the general public who had been so unbelievably generous, considered us taken care of.
So, I thought one morning after doing an inventory of supplies that I would put out on the internet for a creative way to donate. There were over 1000 seeing the posts, so why not tap into the resource? We had the peoples favorites on the list; stove top or microwave cooking items and laundry detergent. (Cleaning up after a flood is messy work.) I asked people to spend an extra $20 at the food store and bring $20 of one item. Simply, direct, and right into the peoples hands.
Only one person came.
Sad, isn’t it? One person brought us $20 of spaghetti sauce. So Chip did some maneuvering and got in touch with some warehouses that were for 501 3(c) groups and restocked the best he could.
Fast forward to today. There is a buzz everywhere! What a great day! What an exciting opportunity to help! $20 gets you 2 drinks, free food, free transportation and you can drink for FIVE HOURS STRAIGHT! The best part is, the money goes to organizations who are helping people with recovery, its ‘a good cause’.
I don’t mean to sound cynical even though as I type it I know it does. It is great that they are going to raise thousands of dollars! There are hundreds of people going. The money will be divided between the recipients and eventually it will fall in the hands of some local families. They need the money desperately. If they have to wait another 6 weeks or more isn’t such a bad thing. They’re used to waiting.
That same $20 could have fed them 6 weeks ago. Right into their hands. Or a $20 gift card to a home improvement store could have bought them a new hammer or replaced some other flood damaged item.
Whats the big deal? I go back to our kids, because that is our main concern.
Why do we have such early drinkers here? Why do we have so many permissive parents who allow free drinking saying ‘we drank’? No thought of brain development, function or the possibility teen drinking could lead to dangerous decisions or more risk taking behavior.
Is the fundraiser really about relief or is it about the drunken crawl ? If we’re trying to be an example to our kids of charity and kindness, then which of two scenarios teaches it?
The kids are watching; they see the planning of outfits, baby sitters hired, they hear ‘its for a good cause’. They know the kid in their class still isn’t living in their own home, so they even get excited about the day. But they will also see how their parents will come home at the end of the day. But what they wont see is the actual end result.
They wont see the can of soup go from the shopping cart to the shelf for a senior citizen who just had 50 years worth of memories washed away. They wont hear the conversation in the car as to ‘why’ you are driving to the horrible cold distribution center to drop off the food. They wont see the people meandering around reading labels trying to find something that will fill their bellies while saving them some money as they scrounge to repair their homes.
Think about it, they learn from what we show them, not from what we tell them. If everything we do has to revolve around alcohol, aren’t we are showing them that it is an essential ingredient to being an adult?
Could you imagine it missing from:
Your stress relief
Your reunion with friends
Your toddlers birthday
Your teens pre prom party
Your week night dinners
Your weekend dinners
Your post PTO weeknight meetings
Your fundraiser brain storming sessions
Your guys night out
Your girls night out
Your 5k races
Your movie watching
Your sports watching……..
Is helping others only reserved for scouts, or school projects and encapsulated into specific times in life? Or is it a part of who we are?
When you think about what kind of adults you want to see your children become, remember they are ultimately going to repeat what they see and experience.
Which of the two lessons has more impact?
We hope they raise tons of money, and we’re sure they will. And we really hope that the organizations who will be trusted with it will use the money for the families and not self promotion.
Am I saying we should never go to a 2 drink free appetizer fundraiser or that adults should never drink? No I’m not. I’m just saying- Stop, think, reflect.
We wont go to the crawl today. We’ll stay home with our kids, dye Easter eggs add $20 to the pot for the families we are still helping instead.