Lessons In Charity

My school has a tradition that every year the year twelve group has to raise money for a charity. Our year chose a local organisation that runs an orphanage in Nepal, and for the last few months we’ve been running various fundraising drives to raise as much money as we can. As we only have three days of high school left ever, today was our final charity collection down the street. My friends and I got a prime spot outside a (relatively) busy shopping centre, and eagerly set up our table and signs. 

I am guilty, over the years, of completely ignoring people trying to get my attention on the street. I don’t care if they want donations, me to look at their products, or to sign a petition, I do not like talking to them and so I usually get out my phone and pretend to be intensely busy until I am way past them. Until today I had never been on the other side, and in the three or so hours we spent trying to get donations, people’s reactions absolutely shocked me. We were four teenage girls in our senior school uniform, sitting at a table with advertisements for our (public) school and charity surrounding us. And yet people were so rude. We made an effort to say hello to every single person who passed us, but the vast majority started walking faster to get away from us. A few would feel obliged to stop and give us a dollar or two, but so many avoided us like the plague. People with arms full of shopping, hands full of coffee, obviously with coins in their pockets, walking past or telling us that they had no money (another group encountered a man who said he had no money, patting his pockets to prove it, only to have them jingle very loudly. He still walked off). Some seemed generally apologetic, most did not. 

Interestingly, many of the people who did stop to talk to us and give donations were the kinds that you might not pick. Those who looked like they came from a lower socio-economic background. The elderly. Those more likely to be struggling. Maybe, and I am vastly generalising here, they knew the kindness of charity and wanted to give back. Maybe they just had extremely kind hearts, emptying their purses to feed those who have even less than they do. 

We managed to make a few hundred dollars (just at our stand, there were about ten groups throughout the town), but I can only imagine how much more we would have made, and how much extra would have gone to helping children in need, if people would just open their heart to charity. Maybe some genuinely didn’t have money. Maybe some were like me and just hate talking to strangers and being accosted. But most were just selfish. And it saddens me. How can we expect the world to improve in any way, shape, or form if we only care about ourselves? 

A year ago, I visited orphanages in Vietnam. Seeing those children who literally had nothing, no family, no education, no possessions (at least to our standards), and then leaving them to go back to my five star resorts with my pockets full of cash absolutely broke my heart. I have experienced the horror of what life is for many orphans (I feel guilty even saying the word “experienced” because I haven’t really – I’ve superficially observed), and sitting here at my Macbook Pro, in my affluent street, about to finish my secondary education, I feel so selfish. It’s not fair – why do I get so much, and they get so little. Why do I get to plan my fourth overseas trip in two years, when they will most likely never leave their towns? I just…I just wish everyone could see what I have seen, and then maybe they wouldn’t be so hasty to rush past the donation jars. 

I know next time I see a charity collector, I’ll be giving them whatever I have. 

frangipani princess xoxo

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3 thoughts on “Lessons In Charity

  1. I always try to give to charity when they just want a one-off donation.When they try to make me sign up and commit to donating $50 a month however…well, I just can't so I do avoid them like the plague.

  2. Thank you. You made me see the world through different eyes becuase of that one post. Next time I see a charity collector, I'll remember your post and give them the spare money I have. Thanks, that was beuatiful. 🙂

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