I felt compelled to write this post after reading what The Kraken had to say about sticking a pink fluffy rabbit down your cleavage in the name of charity. It made me remember the rage I felt the other day as I opened a letter from a cancer charity stuffed with a pen, address labels and a car sticker. My mum used to get bucket loads of this stuff, she was forever offering me another free umbrella that some charity had sent her, or a headscarf to accompany the gazillions of brooches, bracelets, keyrings etc that had been posted to her as a ‘gift’. OK, so we all know why they do it, to emotionally blackmail us into giving them a donation but is this really what charity is supposed to be? I am not going to go into the economics of how much it costs to produce this tat and then send it all out. And where do they get it from? Is it ethically sourced or are we being forced to support one charity and in doing so supporting the bleak working conditions of the kids that were forced to construct all these umbrellas in some godforsaken factory somewhere?
Clearly it is a ploy that works because it has been going on for years. I remember my grandmother being very pleased with her ‘free’ packs of Christmas cards she got each year, painted with feet or mouth. But what is charity all about? For a good rant on buying commercialised stuff to show how supportive you are, go read the Kraken’s post and the comments. I don’t want to pee on her bonfire and could never say it like she does, but I do feel that she makes some great points. And I certainly don’t want to criticise anyone who gives to charity – all giving is good and I am in no position to judge anyone else. However, it makes me livid when, in the privacy of my own house, I am made to feel guilty, nay emotionally blackmailed into feeling I MUST give some money to cover the costs of all the stuff they have sent me. I will give to charity as I see fit, either by running a race for sponsorship or simply by sticking a fiver in a box. I will NOT be made to feel I am a bad person by keeping all this gubbings and not signing up for a £2 a month donation. In Clinton Cards the other day I was asked if I wanted to buy a pen to support breast cancer? In front of a queue of people I was made to seem either an unfeeling bitch or made to buy a pen I didn’t want. That is NOT FAIR. I see the pens, thanks. I don’t want one and if I want to make a donation to cancer awareness I will do so but because I WANT to and not because you make me and not because it makes me look good in front of others. That, for me, is not what charity is about.
By the way, my answer as to what to do with all the stuff they send is save it up and stuff it in the shoebox appeal. Not the address labels, obviously. I am not sure whether the poor families in Romania want a pen that will fit in your wallet, but hopefully they will be more grateful to receive it than I was and at least somewhere in the dubious chain of events there is a use for it all.