Thursday, March 08, 2007

When “Charities” aren’t feeling “Charitable”

There has been a decided choice on my part to do my best to try to keep my fiber related charity group separate from this blog. I’ve been running Charitable Crafters for almost six years now and I must admit, I’ve met people from both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between. It has been an eye opening experience and usually I am able to take it all in mentally, process it, vent to a few carefully chosen people, and then move on. I ran with this idea back in 2001 as a means of really giving comfort to people when they need it most. I have discovered though, that not everyone’s ideas of charity are the same.

Personally, my idea of charity is to donate your time or the work of your hands to the comfort of others without demanding recognition or compensation. I always feel torn between promoting my group and working in quiet anonymity. If I thought that I could recruit volunteers with my incredible psychic powers, I would do so. So far, that approach hasn’t worked too well.

So our group has wonderful volunteers from all age groups and walks of life. I find them constantly inspiring and even though we get volunteers from other states that I have never met, I feel like they are my friends.

So, what do I do when I get volunteers that donate their items with the stipulation that they not be donated to “black people” or “people that don’t pay their taxes”? Thus far, I’ve told that person (via a third party because this anonymous donor has never had the cajones to tell me this to my face) that once her donations are given to us, we donate them where they are needed. I then proceed to donate them to exactly the people that this woman seems to hate. It’s my simple way to balance karma.

Now, she (who has never given me her name), wants a slip from me for tax purposes. I record all of her donations as “anonymous” since she never puts her name on them and I have many anonymous donations. In other words, I don’t know how many items she specifically donated. She may instead be looking for a “blanket” declaration of her donations to our group which I’m not sure what purpose it would serve.

I’ve always felt uneasy about her donations as we have such diverging philosophies. I also didn’t feel that it was my business to tell her that I wouldn’t accept her donations. It has been a sticky wicket from day one.

There are those days when I discover that people bring their own perceptions of who/what I am due to what I choose to do. A local Christian newspaper wanted to do an article on our group but after reading our website and discovering that I had *gasp* quotes from other religious traditions on it, they backed out. My conversation with them went something like this:

Them: Even though you have these quotes from other religions on your website, you are a Christian group, right?

Me: I don’t make any religious claims. We’re a group of people that want to do good things for our community. I don’t see that as being a religious-thing but more of a human-thing.
Them: Oh. Well, have a nice day.

So, apparently a story in a Christian newspaper about how a bunch of different people from different religious traditions, different walks of like, different politics, and different ages JUST DOESN’T CUT THE MUSTARD.

No matter what I do, I’m going to burn in someone’s hell.

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