Sunday, November 24, 2013

It takes more than one charity to reach a disaster!

My grandmother was a person who taught me about volunteering and giving back to others and she made and gave away beautiful coats to children in need.  Grams also volunteered for the Ladies Republican committee and where she could that was close to home because she didn't drive.

When I got older she had me volunteer for a local hospital as a Candy Striper and a school for disabled children during my lunch hour at the school next door.

As I got older, I volunteered for the PTA, Scouts, Women's Organizations, etc.  and it has never been in me to just sit and not reach out.

I donate to Angel Tree, Deborah Heart Institute, Saint Judes, Shriner's Hospitals, etc. and I take unwanted items to the local Hospice second hand store, give gently used clothing and coats from the kids to the schools for the children in need. I do not give anything with a hole, a tear, a stain!

We all see disasters and the organizations that jump in and help like the Red Cross, World Vision, Catholic Charities, Christian Relief Services, Peacecorps, Americorps, etc.

Then there are smaller organizations in our communities from our churches to Love Inc., Community Action Programs, Rural projects that donate food to their communities, gardening plots to help feed people.

There are so many, we never know who to donate to or in my case I never have enough time or money to help everyone I want to help or who have helped me over the years.

Then there are smaller organizations dedicated to comforting and keeping people warm such as:
  • Warming Families - A charity that encourages quilters to make quilts for those that are homeless in their area.
  • Binky Patrol - an all volunteer, national, non-profit organization making and distributing homemade blankets to children born HIV+, drug-addicted, infected with AIDS or other chronic & terminal illnesses, those who are abused, in foster care or experiencing trauma of any kind. Our recipients are from 0-18
  • Project Linus - Provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.”
  • 100 Clubdedicated to standing behind the men and women who stand behind the badge. For more than 40 years, the 100 Club has provided assistance to statewide public safety agencies, officers, firefighters, paramedics, and their families.
 I could go on and on but I think we all get the picture that if there is something or someone you are looking to help, you will most likely be able to find an organization to help that pet project or concern of yours.

We become arrogant when we believe their is ONLY ONE organization that can help everyone.  Because no matter how hard anyone tries, the truth is one organization cannot do it all and many do not want to do it all. From the ASPCA to the Red Cross, each have created their own niche in the world.

A quilting friend of mine who has a heart the size of her long arm machine has given freely of her time, skills, money and training to help Layers of Hope and the people in the Philippines, Binky Patrol and more.

Many times she engages her students to reaching out and helping and in turn they are learning skills such as sewing, quilting, shipping, measure twice and cut once, etc..

Imagine when one of her honor students came in and said another teacher, an economics teacher of all things, told them they should not be making quilts or stuffed animals or collecting anything for the people of the Philippines because that should be left up to the Red Cross.

He went further to tell them that those of us who quilt and send things are only 'Feel Good Charities,' and nothing we send will help the people in the Philippines. Only Red Cross can do that.

I was dismayed to hear that a teacher would say such discouraging things to his students and about others who do so much to reach out around the world to comfort a stranger.

The teacher friend asked him about it and he told her that he would not back down because he believes these are a waste of time having himself served in the Peace Corps.

I wonder if he has ever spoken to a child who has been bitterly cold and received a warm blanket if it made a difference. I wonder if he ever spoke to a child who lost its favorite toy in a flood how that little stuffed animal made them happier.  I wonder if he has ever talked to a child while its parents were trying to kill each other and when the child comes into a police department that stuffed animal they are clinging to makes them feel.

If you just pack up blankets and animals and ship off to no one in particular, you may not be helping, but when you have a contact asking for these things, then yes sir, we are doing a good thing for those wherever they are and whatever crisis they are going through and so are her students.

From what I could see, she had at least 10 large boxes packed up and heading to the post office for shipping to the Philippines on Monday. Don't tell the people that will share in the blankets or the children that will share in the animals they don't matter.

Red Cross's issue is they are a huge organization, they have a CEO who commands a huge salary, employee's that need to get paid, overhead, policies and procedures and that all adds up to red tape, miles and miles of it.

However, there are other organizations who can hit the disaster areas running and be there on scene within a few short hours to a few days and they are equally as important...whether they be providing food, medical, water or even something like TIDE does with portable laundry facilities, everyone works to help.

I hope these students do not become discouraged. I hope they know they are making a difference, each one of us who chooses to can and will be able to whether it is a stuffed animal, a quilt, a box filled with hand sanitizer, fresh socks, coloring books to occupy children or even M&M's, all of it helps to brighten the day of someone who just perhaps days ago was living their life happily and now are walking around in shock!

I hope this teacher realizes not all of Red Cross funding gets distributed as quickly as it should because it has to go through channels and those channels at times clog up.

I do not advocate sending your dirty socks, ratty shoes and purses, etc. to a disaster area, have a heart and give, but give what you would want to receive and never tell someone trying to help that they aren't when if you aren't in the mix of the mess, you don't really know! 

Never, ever just put things in a box and ship to anyone in a disaster area. Have a plan, have a contact, find someone who has contacts and can help and if you are sending money, verify the agency you are sending the money to is legitimate.

Discouraging these children is taking away their blessing. They want to reach out and help others, they want to make a difference, we should not discourage that in our young people!

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