Today ends our school Civic Drive. The Civic Drive was for collecting "new or lightly used toys for children in need." Allow me to inform all of you that most of what was donated, which was very little, was used. We're talking extremely used. There is a Doodle Bear, all doodled, not laundered and without the doodly pens. The doodles? Not so artful or purposeful. Scribbles, really. There is a stuffed Mickey Mouse that has met his fate with some type of cream colored latex house paint on several areas of his body. There is a little bitty oven with stickers on it. Barbie accessories with marker on them and missing parts. We received all of three new things, at least in the batch that I saw. (Not all have been collected yet, as I know what K- donated hadn't made it to the PTA room yet.)
Let me decode for the reading public-- "lightly used" doesn't mean whipped to no end. "Lightly used" is the polite way for saying, "Basically new and out of the box." Please consider who will be receiving this toy. K- and I had a discussion about it. I told her that the toys that are donated may very well be the only item that the child receives for Christmas and I certainly would hate to think that if we were in the same situation, my child's only Christmas gift would be something that Goodwill wouldn't consider selling.
She gasped. As well she should.
I have to consider the other side, too. Perhaps all of you recall the story of K- and the used Christmas exchange book. Maybe the kids were donating just something of theirs so that their name could be put in the drawing to win a skate ticket pack. Perhaps the parents had nothing to do with it. So often, parents know very little about what their children are doing at school. (I have teachers who would back me up on that statement.)
We're looking towards doing our annual canned food drive in March. Last year, we had to toss nearly 80 expired items. One item dated back to 1999. On the collection notice that we send, we will be specifying that any expired items will not be counted toward the class total and we will be discarding them.
Who would seriously want to eat a boxed meal item dating back 11 years? Well, it could have been longer. The expiration was back in 1999. Goodness knows when the item was actually purchased!
Again, I think of the recipients. For about a year, Hubs and I volunteered at the local homeless shelter. We directly saw who received items/meals and interacted with them on a regular basis. In fact, I ate with the ladies every Monday night. (To earn their trust, I learned that declining a meal that I thought I shouldn't take from them was them viewing me as looking down upon them and thinking that they were icky, as opposed to my trying to conserve food for others.) I've worked at the church food pantry. I've picked up from the church food pantry for my brother on numerous occasions. I've been in the thick of who receives such donations. I couldn't ever hand potentially inedible items off to them-- ever. Not to anyone.
I hate that times that drives come up, people feel the need to donate the unwanted. Isn't it when donating to church, it is to be the first fruits that you set aside for God? Well, let's look at donations to the public in the same way. Let us give them our first fruits and not the leftover table scraps that have been in the fridge for a week.