Why I Don’t Donate to Food Pantry’s
Over the years I have met hundreds of amazing people that work at organizations that give back to society. What I have learned along the way has made me stop donating to food pantry’s and toy drives. The cold hard truth that is seldom ever mentioned is this. The organization that receives all your hard earned donations may be just tossing them in a dumpster at the end of the day.
Many times organizations receive items they can not use or have too much of the same thing. The items sit on the shelf and expire before getting handed out and end up being thrown away. A while back a “representative” from a local organization on the North Shore contacted me to ask me to tell my readers to stop donating a large list of specific products. They stated they did not need or want this items and that they had started tossing them in the trash because they just did not have the need for them.
Years ago a local real estate agency was having a teddy bear drive for children in crisis. The thought of a child not having a teddy bear to hug and hold tight when everything else in their world was falling apart pulled at my heart strings. I went out and purchased a few teddy bears for their collection box and started to looked for other ways to help. I was able to locate a way to get a large supply of teddy bears (for free). I decided to reach out directly to my connection at the children’s organization that was receiving the teddy bears to arrange a direct drop off. I was told that they had received so many bears that they did not need anymore and that because they received so many that they had just tossed the last collection in a dumpster.
You all have seen stories of Toys for Tots doing toy drives for children in need and every year they are always saying they don’t have enough toys. Although that may be the case in some locations I know first hand that is not the case in all locations. One year a police station in NH had amassed so many toys from the toy drive that they realized they had more than needed. Instead of giving the kids in need a few extras or sharing with surrounding community’s one of the higher ups at the police station decided to provide a full fledge Christmas to her brothers family. She hand picked the best of the toys, including electronics, bikes and Legos and delivered them to her nephews prior to giving them to the intended recipients.
Although these three instances may not be the norm it has changed my outlook on things and made me come up with my own personal philosophy which is simply just this, start close to home. Next time you have items to donate start in your own neighborhood. Look for a senior citizen in your neighborhood to share with. Most seniors are living on very limited income and often have to choose whether to turn the heat up or skip a meal. Look for a veteran, a young mom or a struggling family trying to make ends meet. Start your generosity closest to home and watch it spread out from there. Chances are you have neighborhood around you filled with people that could use some help. Some may be to proud or stubborn to ask for help from local organizations but would be ever so grateful for your random acts of kindness. Your kindness and generosity given personally and one on one can be life changing for all involved.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe food pantry’s are a great resource for people in need and are often run and supported by wonderful people. However, I do believe it only band aids something that could be a long term problem in some circumstances. If all the agencies could invest some of their fund raising efforts to actually teach each member how to use coupons, budget and shop wisely they could see a higher rate of overall success. Donating to a pantry or collection drive helps provide a temporary fix to a problem that may not heal any time soon. Taking the time to help a neighbor will do much more than that. Once you start helping someone one on one that needs help you will see what the power of generosity can do , not only for them but for you. Paying it forward is the ultimate coupon high and once you get a taste of it you will want more. You will find yourself wanting to do more give more and teach more. This is an empowering change that you may not be able to experience at a local pantry drop off location. You will be hands on with individuals in your community. You will be able to start teaching someone that is struggling find ways to provide for themselves. The person receiving your donations may eventually be able to learn how to provide for themselves and eventually be able to pay it forward. The ultimate full circle.
You have the power to change the world.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
If you do decide to donate to a collection drive our food pantry here are some tips;
Go direct to the source.
Although many organizations hearts are in the right place when they start a food drive or toy drive there may not be the need for the items they are collecting. Before donating or starting your own collection drive find out what agency the items are being donated to and call that agency directly to get the facts.
Here are some questions you may want to ask:
- What there specific needs are
- Is there anything they are not accepting
- What do they do with the excess donations
- Are they a non profit
- Do they plan on doing any classes to help teach their client
I have been considered low income status the majority of my life. I grew up in a low income family in Chelsea, MA. I struggled as a young divorced single mother in my early twenties and I continued to struggle to make ends meet once I remarried. Brian and I had 4 kids to feed and not much income coming from his paycheck. Coupons have changed my life. If I had only known then what I knew know life would have been that much less of a struggle. Help somebody that is struggling by sharing what you know now!