Editorial: Charity comes straight from the heart

Outpouring of help from residents of small towns, including Sooke

It’s the season of giving while recognizing and appreciating what and who we have in our lives. Most of us are fortunate.  While we may not have everything, we do have enough.

Every community seems to have an ever upward spiraling need for more help for its most vulnerable residents. The need is often greater than the ability to supply even the most basic necessities of life. And it is getting worse. During the holiday season there are so many charities seeking donations that many of them are not getting what they need to run their programs. It’s likely you could easily name at least five charities or volunteer organizations that are looking for food donations, clothing, money and toys.

Every community has a food bank, which in itself is a travesty. This holiday season it would be a amazing to see every food bank with enough to feed those who need extra help. It’s not just during Christmas though, it’s a year-long need and the shelves are often pretty bare. They all function on a shoestring. These charitable organizations rely on volunteers and in small places, like Sooke for example, people come out and give back to the community every single day. All people should have access to the basics, like food and shelter. No one should be sleeping under a bridge or in the woods, or couch surfing for that matter. And they shouldn’t have to feel like beggars standing in a soup line. If the governments, all levels of them, can pay their staff and management huge salaries, then they should be able to up the basic income assistance to the needy. By needy I mean children, single parents, seniors and the handicapped. The gap between the haves and the have nots is widening. Those feelings of goodwill and generosity shouldn’t be limited to just those times when we feel a tinge of guilt for being so good to ourselves and our families. While we are at it, remember to shop locally if possible. This supports those who live, work  and pay taxes in their community, and the money they make stays there.

People in small towns know who their poor are. They interact with them on a daily basis. They see the disadvantaged collecting bottles and cans, who are actually doing their own kind of public service. They are working in their own way and they have pride because they aren’t panhandling. People in places with a sense of community look out for their neighbours and check on them if they haven’t been seen or heard from in awhile. These same people are often the ones who donate anonymously and generously. They don’t look for the photo op with the giant cheque and they shy away from recognition. There are no administrative “costs” and all the money they give stays in their own community to aid those who live there. These people are giving from the heart and often it is those who can least afford it who give the most. Because they know, without good fortune, that the person they are helping could be themselves.

There is no shame in being poor, but there can be shame in being rich.

“Let him who neglects to raise the fallen, fear lest, when he falls, no one will stretch out his hand to lift him up.” Saadi