Our donors play a HUGE role in this! The jackets and casseroles we receive enable us to connect with people and meet their needs not just for food but also for dignity and love and belonging.
It’s difficult to communicate that sense of worth to someone though when the gifts we bear are damaged, expired castoffs. Sure, one person’s trash may be another’s treasure but the people we meet have full enough access to garbage. We want to give them the dignity of accessing what we ourselves would want.
Regrettably, our volunteers have opened several donation boxes to discover clothing with gaping holes, food that expired years ago (as far back as a decade), freezer burnt meat, stained clothing and broken toys. And it’s a difficult thing to talk about, because some of these are given by well-meaning people who want to share what they have. Still, we need to raise the bar. We need to ask ourselves if we're really giving, or if we're just getting rid of junk.
The Golden Rule of Donations: Would you wear it, use it or eat it?
If it’s clothing you would wear, or food you would enjoy eating, then it is worth giving. If the thought crosses your mind, ‘oh well, whatever. It’s good enough for them’, it's time to consider a more thoughtful gift.
We want to restore dignity. That does not happen when our attitude is that it’s “good enough for them” – as though the lowly should be thankful for the rags we toss their way. They suffer this kind of disdain and rejection all the time. Let’s not cloak it in pseudo giving and tell ourselves we’re lovely generous people.
Let’s not just say we love each other, let’s actually love.
What are kind and thoughtful donations then? Pretty much anything that you yourself would actually want to use. Anything you would enjoy. Anything you would proudly wear in public or to work.