Thursday, October 18, 2012

I'm Not a Fan of Government. Aren't I Original?

There were lots of smiles.

And hugs.

There was lots of laughing.

And high fives.

There was lots of cooperation.

And introductions.

There were boisterous renditions of Happy Birthday.

And birthday ribbons.

Yet we were not at a birthday party.

We were working at a food pantry.

The school my kids attend stresses service and responsibility in helping others.  Each month the school chooses one organization to support.  For example, in September there is a walk-a-thon to help children with diabetes attend camp.  In December there is a drive to collect hygiene products for the local shelter.  In April, they raise money to purchase animals through Heifer, International.  The kids are not to mooch money off of relatives, but are to donate their own money or do extra chores to earn it.

These are all great activities to teach the kids how to help people.  But there needs to be more.

The school, to my delight, also requires all middle school students to complete service hours.  Each year, hundreds of students learn how to not only help people, but how to serve others.  Hopefully with a happy heart.

Besides raking leaves for old ladies, I take them to work at The Lord's Pantry. 

I won't go into all of the details.  In short, a man named Lucious Newsome came to Indy for work, helped serve meals on Thanksgiving, and discerned that he needed to help feed people every single day.  He gave up everything and lived as a "beggar for the poor."  The Lord's Pantry was thus begun.  If you want to read more, the whole story is at the link above.  I have worked there several times, and each time, the same amazing things have happened.

For the first hour and a half, volunteers set up the "store", organizing the fresh produce, bread, canned goods, chicken, drinks, and snacks that have been donated.  Buttercup and Star went with me this time, and we spent the entire time measuring 200 pounds of flour into 2 cup packages.

Before the doors are opened, the volunteers are gathered to get instructions.  Rule #1 is Smile.  The folks coming through the line may not see another smile all week.  Be polite, be happy, introduce yourself, be personable. 

Holy cow, do the volunteers deliver!  The regular volunteers know the people from the neighborhood.  They know their names, they know the families, they know their stories.  And they are genuinely happy to see them.  When someone with a birthday walks in, a gift bow is slapped on her shoulder.  The entire time, she has people wishing her a happy birthday, and before she leaves, everyone sings a boisterous Happy Birthday! 

Some volunteers are in charge of telling customers how many of each product they can have.  The luckiest volunteers get to help the customers carry their bags.  I helped six women on Saturday.  I simply walked behind each woman, carrying her grocery bags while she loaded them up.  We introduced our children (my kids were passing out different products, theirs were helping carry groceries), we talked recipes, we hugged. 

I had a great time.

On the way home, I was curious to know what Buttercup and Star thought of the experience.  I teared up at Star's answer.

"I was surprised to see how many kids were there.   And I was really surprised to see their clothes."

Huh?  Did he think they would be naked?  I asked for clarification.

"They had warm coats.  They had normal clothes.  They looked like me."

For years, he had been helping the poor without even knowing who "the poor" actually was.

The poor are people that look just like him.  And me.

Are there people needing assistance because of drugs or alcohol?  Yes.

Were there people who felt that it was a right to receive this food?  Most certainly.  (Buttercup had to be talked down after a woman got completely ticked off that she had to wait for a few seconds for someone to get her white bread instead of the wheat on the table.)

Does it matter?  Not in the least.

Jesus did not tell us to help those that deserve it.  He did not tell us to help only those people that we like.  He told us to help those in need.  Without judgement.  

So we did.

In this election year, there is quite the debate over taxes.  How much to tax and how to spend the money.

I am in the camp that says get rid of many of the taxes as well as many of the government help programs.

I get angry when people accuse those of us in this camp of not caring for those in need.

I am in this camp because I care very much for people in need.

When a person goes to apply for assistance, does she get a hug?

When the government sends the check, does it come with a smile?

Does the machine writing that check ask about her children?

Does anyone in the government gather a group of people to sing a boisterous Happy Birthday to her?

No.  No, it doesn't.

There are so many people in this world who want to serve, and they are so much better at it than an impersonal government.

Do we need to pay taxes?  Absolutely.  The government is a necessity for a civilization to work.

But I would love to pay a whole lot less in taxes and give every penny of that money to charitable organizations that actually serve people.

Have a lovely day!

21 comments:

  1. WOW
    Well said! you are so correct Jesus did not ask us to judge, but to love and care. Good job teaching your kids! And great comment from Star, what an eye opener for the kids! Poor buttercup rude people can be so terrible!
    Good job mama! and thank you for the reminder
    jen

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  2. You said it perfectly! I had never thought of it like that and I completely agree with you. The Lord's Pantry sounds like an amazing place.

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    1. It truly is. About six years ago, Lucious managed to raise enough money to build a community center type of building. (The Lord's Pantry used to just be held in a warehouse in which we all had to wear winter coats to work.) Now, Anna's House is able to offer tutoring, dinners on Wednesdays, and many other programs for the neighborhood.

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  3. Wow! Inspiring! Love this post. I will try to find out abt this in my local town and i want to volunteer too :) God bless you and the guy who created the Lotd's pantry.

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    1. Thank you. Obviously, I would encourage you to find a place to volunteer. It will give you such hope and good feelings about people.

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  4. Replies
    1. Me, too. I am having the darndest time commenting on your blog. I've tried many times, but when I hit submit, I get a message that the site could not be found. Anyone else having this trouble that you know?

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  5. Matthew 25:37--". . . Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee?"

    Matthew 25:40--". . .Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

    Good job teaching your children by example.

    Political viewpoints and/or checking account size do not define an individual's charitable acts, and, like you, I get tired of hearing blanket accusatory statements thrown back and forth. I have friends and family on both sides of the political aisle, yet all seem to truly care about the needs of others. The real disagreement concerns what role government should play in caring for the needy and how it should be set up to both provide for those who truly need and yet discourage abuse of the system.

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    1. It's true. People get all worked up, hurling insults, without ever stopping to take a look at what the other side is even saying. If more people did, perhaps they'd realize that in many ways both sides want the same things. If that is acknowledged, perhaps they could work together to get a good plan going.

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  6. I have a hard time being charitable with money cause all I have is hope that they are passing on the help. But I love that you are doing hands on charity. And reading this post made me think that hope on my part should be enough to donate money.
    Although I know your thoughts when writing this are different but you made me think. Love your teachings to your beautiful children.

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    1. Thank you. I completely understand being hesitant to give money. There are organizations that aren't the best at using what is given. My criteria for donating money: 1. The organization is smart with their donations, with a very high percentage actually going to helping the people they serve. 2. It isn't a fund thrown together after a large tragedy. For example, I didn't give a dime to 9/11 funds. Yes, the people suffered greatly on that day, but people suffer equally every single day without the national spotlight. I would rather give to the organizations quietly serving those in pain. Organizations that aren't pulling in millions of dollars. 3. The organization is in line with my moral beliefs.
      Don't be afraid to donate money. But don't be afraid to be smart about it either.

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  7. It warms my heart seeing people doing real good for their community instead of just talking the talk. Kudos to you and for passing these lessons to your children.

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  8. What a great way to teach your kids to empathise with people who are worse off than them!

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  9. Well said. I love that the kiddos help you volunteer. My mom took me as a kid and I did stupid things like staple papers for a Disability Resource company. I too believe that people should pay taxes. I may tick some people off but if people didn't get more back than they put in the deficit may not be so high. People do need help, I understand, but there are also people selling their food stamps to buy drugs so it is really hard to say where to draw the line. But a food kitchen or pantry may be the way to go. If people had to donate food or clothes instead of giving money from their paycheck they may stop evading taxes

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    1. Well, at least you were doing something usefull:) Can't tick anyone off when you are simply stating that the tax system is messed up and there are better ways to help people to avoid scammers. Most can agree with that.

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