Marcia’s Law – The Giving Season
“The charity that is a trifle to us can be precious to others.”
By Marcia Prichason
I can tell it’s getting to be a lot like Christmas; the requests for charitable donations are flooding my inbox, my mailbox, and my voice mail.
And I do give. Actually, I believe in giving all year round. First, I donate my time. My year kicks off with the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer; I donate an entire weekend helping walkers who have each raised a minimum of $1,200.00 to participate.
I also donate goods. Anything we’re not using, or we don’t want goes to a charitable organization. That includes clothes, shoes, books, household goods, and coats. Recently, I donated furniture to a local organization that helps needy people in my community furnish their homes.
I also donate money. We recently participated in a “Hunger” event that was designed specifically to provide beef to those in need. I give money to the American Cancer Society, food pantries, politicians I support, and pretty much any cause that supports kids (except the BSA; but you already know that).
But one organization I will not donate to is the Salvation Army. It’s a shame, really, because if anything in this country heralds the onset of the Christmas season, it’s got to be those Salvation Army bell ringers. I miss the simple joy of giving that the ringing of that bell conjures up in my consciousness…and fond memories too…
When my children were little, I made it a point to bring extra change every time I took them to the store. I wanted them to have the very real experience of putting money into the kettle. It provided a wonderful life lesson about how important it is to give to others, even though we don’t know the recipients, even though they never know who the money came from, and especially because those few “trifling” coins we deposited were hard earned and carefully apportioned. My kids knew that they were, in some small way, making someone else’s life a little better.
So, I feel badly when I pass by without pressing a few coins into the slot. But, the Salvation Army has a policy of exclusion for LGBTQ individuals, and I cannot support them. In fact, I haven’t supported them for years. And, I WON’T support them until they change their policy of exclusion and discrimination.
Every time I am confronted by one of those amazingly cheerful Salvation Army volunteers, I want to say something about the Salvation Army’s anti-gay policy. There they are, those rugged volunteers, in the rain, cold, sleet, and snow ringing away, chatting it up, wishing everyone a happy holiday. I want to say something, but I don’t.
I don’t tell them that the Salvation Army’s policy against gays is wrong, that they are diminishing an entire segment of the population, or that LGBTQ people are as equally subject to suffering as anyone else (perhaps even more so if they have been kicked out of their homes because of their sexual orientation or sexual identity), and that they are equally as deserving.
I don’t say anything to those intrepid bell ringers. I know that the people ringing those bells while shivering from the cold are themselves just one step, perhaps not even, above the poverty level, and grateful for the work. I don’t tell them because even if they do tell their supervisor, it will not change their policy. The Salvation Army is entrenched in their misguided mission of serving only those they deem worthy. I know this because I write them every year stating that, this year, AGAIN, I will not give them a single dime because of their discriminatory policies…and this year, AGAIN, I will get a form letter back thanking me for my concerns. So this year AGAIN, they will continue doing business the same way they have been doing business; they will continue to discriminate.
I make it MY business to donate to causes that I believe are equally as worthy. I make sure that the causes I donate to have an active non-discrimination policy. I make sure that MOST of what I donate goes directly to the recipients. And, I make sure I can live with where my donated dollars are going.
I know I cannot live with my money going to a charity that discriminates even if the charity is established, respected, and far-reaching.
So, the bell ringers can keep on ringing their bells. They fall on my deaf ears; because the charity that some may consider a trifling is precious to me.
…And I’m just a mom who loves her son…