In a blog post few days ago, I wrote about Maria, or whatever the name is of the Third World waif, that one of those Save The Children type television commercials keeps wanting us to send money to so she can have a new life. I made the comment in jest, but the truth is that I do get fed up with the constant barrage of pleas wanting me to save the entire world from poverty, disease, and the latest natural disaster.

The latest thing is Haitian relief. At the grocery store they had a sign at the checkout counter asking if I wanted to donate my change to the Haitian relief effort. I log onto my favorite websites and there is a banner ad wanting me to click and donate to Haitian relief. The First Lady is on television asking me to do the same thing. I’m sorry, but I can’t save the whole damned world! Many days, it’s all I can do to keep myself upright and functioning.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not heartless, and I do contribute money to help those in need when I can. But I prefer to donate to causes that help my own people, right here in the United States. There are plenty of our fellow citizens who need help, from senior citizens without enough retirement income to survive on, to veterans who cannot afford the medicine they need, to families with children suffering from terrible diseases.

I’m sorry Maria and so many other children in the world live in poverty and that they have no future. But I’d much rather give my money to Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, which treats all children, regardless of their family’s ability to pay.

I won’t give a penny to some loser standing on a street corner with a sign begging for a handout, but there are millions of working people who cannot afford health insurance, or even the basics of life. They would be better off joining the rest of the welfare rats, but they have too much dignity to do that. Every year at Christmas, my employees and I would adopt a family or two who were struggling to make ends meet, and make sure their kids had a good Christmas.

None of us can help everybody who needs something, but all of us can do something for somebody. My dear friend Sharon Del Rosario is busy crocheting lap sized afghans for veterans recovering from injuries, through an excellent program called Soldiers’ Angels, which has many ongoing efforts to help make life better for our nation’s finest. Another close friend of ours, Russell Maxwell, donates his books and magazines to a veterans hospital when he is finished with them, giving the patients access to more current reading material. Before health issues restricted their ability to do so, our friends Tim and Ann Moran celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas by serving meals in homeless shelters.

Hollywood has jumped onto the Haitian bandwagon, and celebrities are busy making very visible donations. I wonder why they don’t put some of their money into good causes here in the United States?

Actually, many do, although their efforts never seem to get as much publicity. Daniel Lawrence Whitney, better known as comedian Larry the Cable Guy, recently donated $1.2 million to develop a new fourteen bed children’s rehabilitation center within the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska, for children with brain injuries.

Country singer Randy Owen of the group Alabama is a big supporter of Saint Jude’s Hospital. Former Price is Right game show host Bob Barker, donated $3 million to help build a premiere treatment center for wounded veterans suffering traumatic brain injuries. These celebrities and everyday people are the folks whose efforts I applaud. They understand that while there is suffering and injustice worldwide, charity begins at home.

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15 Comments on Charity Begins At Home

  1. concerned in New Mexico says:

    Nick,

    Somewhat related to your comment. Isn’t it amazing that the United States rushes to help any country when a natural disaster strikes, But SO MANY countries hate us nonetheless?

    However, I do believe that we are citizens of the world and that it is okay to donate to these relief efforts.

    O.K. Now let’s all sit around the campfire and sing Gumbiyah (or however it is spelled).

  2. Gary says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you. I’m also fed up with hearing about all this money being donated to Haiti. Look at the facts before the quake there only export seemed to be illegal’s to this country. More money has been donated to that country than it’s worth. Aside from that all this money being donated has only added to the corruption that was already going on there. Haiti doesn’t care about there people so why should the rest of the world. I to have no problem with helping out but I agree we should as a nation make sure our people are taken care of first. I have also noticed many times in the past that when we in this country have some kind of disaster such as Katrina you never hear of other nations rushing to donate anything except perhaps condolences.

  3. Redbear says:

    Nick,

    All the things you suggest are great. So are ways to help others around the world. There are needs everywhere, and no one can meet them all, but everyone can make a difference.

    A very loose paraphrase of Paul’s instruction in Romans 14 of the bible is: “Some are vegetarians, some eat meat; some observe special holidays, some treat every day as special. Do what is in your heart, and don’t judge another for doing what is in his.”

    What creates a problem and ticks me off, as it does Bad Nick, is when others try to manipulate us to feel obligated to support needs the way they think we should. Whether it is “Maria’s” eyes on TV, or the local girls’ softball or soccer league running up to customers outside of Walmart, these requests are deliberately designed to make us feel obligated to give. A Salvation Army bell ringer can’t tell the difference between someone who just isn’t giving, and someone who already dropped off a check for hundreds or thousands at their office.

    If we each make our country or the world a little bit better in our own way, things do become better overall. Plus, if we help foreigners without being condescending, it can give a more positive impression of our country and our people. That may reduce the need for more “foreign policy” or military action in the future. I saw the TV clips of the locals chanting “USA! USA! USA!” when an Urban Search and Rescue Team pulled a survivor from deep in the Haitian rubble. I’m sure some of those will remember it for a long time, even if others forget.

  4. SAL Bellomo says:

    I can not agree more with you on this , there many things here in the U.S.A. to Donated too .

  5. Sharon says:

    Thanks for the mention of Soldiers’ Angels, Nick. I look forward to showing people some of the lapghans I’ve made during the upcoming Gypsy Gathering Rally. Maybe that will inspire more people to knit/crochet/quilt/sew more handmade items to bring a little cheer to our recovering soldiers. More info is available at http://soldiersangels.org/

  6. Dale says:

    After 9/11, in addition to donations, I had the honor of making an afghan for a friend’s sister-in-law who lost her twin brother (a fireman) in the twin towers. My friend later told me that I was the only one who had thought to realize that her sister-in-law was hurting with the loss of her brother.

    At Christmas time, and on other occasions, we like to make donations in honor of friends and family to organizations like St. Jude who work to improve the lives of those in our country.

    In Appalachia there are many folks who are as poor as those overseas. And while I agree with the thought that this does help our image overseas, there is something else that can be attained by donating to those in our country.

    If we help our folks with education, job training, etc., it helps not only those individuals but our country as well. It creates not just pride but new jobs and with new jobs, assists in making our economy strong(er).

    Thank you Bad Nick for making this much needed point. And thank you for the information on Soldiers Angels.

  7. Bill says:

    Nick you have got it right, take car of this country and its people first,i do things to help people i know then i know where the money goes.

  8. Prunepicker says:

    I agree with you Nick, but what gets to me – When I donate to one outfit they sell my name to everyone out there. Then my mail box is filled with requests from all over the country. That I do not like.

  9. Marie Weber says:

    don’t have to tell me….I went thru Katrina…and New Orleans is a major sea port….have we learned anything

  10. Karen Knoll says:

    You echo our sentiments to the letter! So many of the newscasts on Haiti show the young men carrying aid relief items…and then you read where it is the same young men who are robbing the elderly and weak and the women of their share and selling those tickets and supplies to the highest bidder! We’d rather support good causes here in the good ol’ USA, as well as give time and efforts to places like Habitat for Humanity and local causes who give directly to those who need. Charity DOES begin at home!!!

  11. Barbara says:

    I take exception to Gary saying no other nations helped when Katrina happened. Canada was there supporting with anything they could. Our fire departments, medical doctors and many many other organizations went down there and stayed. We respect our neighbour’s, but like you say about your country we don’t get that respect from other countries. We have not had a national disaster, but would hope that the U.S. would be right there to help like we were. I think it is about time the U.S. learned about Canada and just see how nice we can be.

  12. Orv Hazelton says:

    Nick, I totally agree with you in that charity begins at home. Nancy and I just completed five weeks volunteering at the Escapee CARE Center http://www.escapeescare.org/ in Livingston, TX. This is a wonderful place for our fellow Escapee RVers to go when its time to hang up the keys. . . either short term or permanetly. They always appreciate volunteers or cash. Click on the link and check it out. As always, oRV

  13. Amen! I’m glad someone else sees this issue the same way we do. We give when we can as well (money and time), but our contributions stay within North America. Thank you for telling it like it is Nick! :)

  14. Kay F. Brown says:

    Amen…well said……our contributions need to save our own, and truly those in need not just too lazy to find something to do. All the talk today about creating jobs. Now I heard today from a reliable source that Whirlpool Corp is closing its doors in Indiana and moving manufacturing to Mexico….What’s up with that? Outsource more jobs to another company. Not helping our nation? Now that company lost any of my future business. I will give my money to some company here.

  15. I assume you care about your neighbors, your town, your state, your country. Why stop at the waters edge? We are all humans beings, earthlings, inhabiting this round hunk of rock floating through space together. As long as we continue to perpetuate the ‘us verses them’ mind set we will continue to have conflicts around the world forcing us to continue to send our best into harms way. There has to be a better way. And one of those ways is to lend a hand around the world to those less fortunate. It helps make them feel better about us and not want to *kill* us.

    As for those ads for the starving children, well, they’re just creepy. I don’t know what it is, but something is off about those organizations, in my opinion. But helping the people suffering from the disaster in Haiti is the moral (and smart) thing to do.

    Why can’t we do both? Why can’t we help at home *and* help around the world?

    — jcw

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