I've been following a series of blog posts called How to Love Your Neighbor Well by blogger Lori Harris. The first one was How to Love on a Mom (in need), and the second one was Because You Asked: How Do I Love the Poor?. The one that really got me thinking was this one, though. 5 Things to Ask Yourself Before You Donate
I absolutely agree with everything she said. People often use donations to make themselves feel good and to get rid of crap they no longer want in their place. It reminds me of working at Savannah Baptist Center, sorting through donations for the clothes closet or food pantry (demeaning words to make people feel even more poor when they came for help), and thinking "Who would donate this? Would he/she wear/eat it?" The answer was usually no way in hell would someone be caught dead wearing the things I sorted through. There's no way most people would have eaten rice and beans and staples for the steady diet they expected "clients" to eat.
Now that I'm unable to work, I'm reminded of those days. We usually have enough food, but sometimes I think of going to the Welcome Table (community meals at local churches) or to community food "banks." I don't because I don't want to be viewed as "less than." Why can't there be some way of people coming together and meeting everyone's needs where I'm not viewed as one of "the poor"? Anytime you put "the" in front like that, you're singling out a group of people and forgetting something very important. We're people first. Oh, and sometimes, we would love it if you thought about giving us more than just what we need. We can't always splurge or do something nice for ourselves. The most wonderful gifts I've been given lately are art supplies I couldn't afford and books. Those gifts made me feel more like me again. I know that people were going through their things thinking of who I am and what I would like. I am humbled and grateful beyond belief.
When you donate, don't donate. Give. Give because you can. Give because you love. Treat them the way you want to be treated. That's how to love your neighbor well.