Giving to the poor

As Christians we are expected to reach out and help those less fortunate.

She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. (Proverbs 31:20)

Once or twice a year I go through my cloths to see what I no longer want because I haven't worn them in ages or they don't fit. I pack all the clothing into bags and take them off to the charity bin. Some people at Christmas donate cans of food they haven't used (found at the back of the pantry and well past their expiry date). We give away old books, knick knacks, things from the kitchen, toys, children clothes are popular etc...Just walk past any charity bin and you will see almost anything. 

However, look closer at the content of the charity bin - mine are often overflowing so that isn't difficult. Lots of people give . . . rubbish, clothes that stained, a broken zip, toys that no longer work. Its one of the biggest complains from charities, the amount of items they receive that are not suitable for human use. 

Why do we think it is ok to give the poor the worse of what we have in our cupboards. Things we would no longer want to use. Much of what we give ends up in the tip and costs charities lots of dollars to dispose of. 

My cousin sent me an article the other day and it was the last paragraph that really struck home 

The next time we have the opportunity to share what we have with someone who is in need, let’s give from the pile we want to keep, not from the one we want to throw out. (source)

How many people would be willing to go through their wardrobes and find some of their favourite clothing and give them to charity. I think I would struggle to find just one person. We all like to "help" the less fortunate, but we are particular in what we give. 

I have a friend who, after doing her grocery shopping will give the homeless man outside the supermarket something to eat. She never gives money (as it will be use to buy cigarettes and alcohol), rather she buys the man something healthy to eat e.g. a bag of fruit but she always includes some chocolate. She always adds the little extra because, as she says, why should a homeless man not enjoy some chocolate, we all enjoy it, so he should too. 


He has filled the hungry with good things, 
And the rich He has sent away empty. (Luke 1:53)

This is how we all should think when giving to others . . . do you think the Lord Jesus Christ gave us second best, no, He gave us the best, He gave us chocolate plus lots more. In writing this post I looked at the number of verses about helping/giving/reaching out to those less fortunate and there are far more verses than I thought. We are encouraged over and over again to reach out and help. However we live in a society that is less likely to give than ever before. And even if you don't have very much to give, there is always something (maybe just one item) that you can give to make someone else smile. 

And as I wrote recently about shining your light in the corner where you are, likewise, you don't need to go to Africa to help those in need. Just look at your own neighbourhood, perhaps someone at church is in need of help. And help doesn't just mean second-hand clothes, it can include a casserole for the family that may be going hungry. An anonymous grocery hamper, meat from butcher, gifts at Christmas, the list is endless. 

God's message to us is simple - help the needy. It's not hard to understand; it's just hard to do. And as we approach Christmas (just over a month away), this is an excellent time to put it in action. I quite like doing the "wishing tree" at Christmas. My place of work does one and I like to buy something special for a child who I know won't been getting very much at Christmas. A simple gesture can make all the differences. 

He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, 
And He will pay back what he has given. 

(Proverbs 19:17)

*****

Comments

  1. It's terrible how people only want to give away their rubbish... I think it's really important for people to try to put themselves into someone else's shoes - how would I feel if I was dirt poor and someone only gave me their stained, torn clothing? What if my children were only ever given toys that were falling apart? No doubt I would still be thankful to have anything, but it certainly reduces one's dignity to think they are only worthy of rubbish.

    This topic always reminds me of the story in the Gospels of the lady who gave a very small amount to the service of God and yet the Lord Jesus praised her because she gave everything she had, while the rich were giving a small amount in comparison to their wealth. The Lord wants us to give our BEST to Him and His work, not our offcasts. Good reminder, Jo. People need to really think about this one.

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    1. It’s not the quantity rather the quality that is important and it certainly isn’t an opportunity to “dump” unwanted items around charity bins with no care of who cleans up the mess. It is far better to give one good item than 10 items that aren’t worth anything and will be turned into rags.

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  2. My mother always mended and washed anything she donated; my mother-in-law would have the items dry-cleaned. I learned from them. If something is stained beyond help, it goes in the trash, not to charity. We will eat expired canned goods, because I know they are still okay for a while, but I never donate them. I just don't want people thinking they're getting leftovers. A timely reminder Jo.

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    1. We should take as much care with what we give to charity as anything else and I like the idea of washing and cleaning everything. Because one never knows if they will need to take things from charity.

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  3. Found you on The Modest Mom Blog.

    In 2008, our home burned down with ten others in a fast-moving wildfire. It made local, regional, even national headlines. As a result, a lot of donations poured in. It was amazing the poor quality of what we received - and I don't mean that ungratefully. We were given a hi-chair with dried puke on it. Thankfully I have amazing friends who started sifting through the donations, as I was overwhelmed with my final month of pregnancy on top of having to find a rental while our home was rebuilt. It was such a powerful reminder to be more generous and thoughtful in our giving. If I am unsure if it can be used, I do try to err on the side of giving as I know some pretty amazing, thrifty moms!

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    1. Thanks for visiting. So glad you had lots of friends to help. Nothing worse that going through a disaster and having to clean donations to make them useable for human use. My parents went through huge bushfire 30 years ago (I was a teen at the time) and I can remember the amazing help from complete strangers, it was wonderful. People would just arrive and offer to clean or cook or even build fences. It really was amazing.

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  4. I volunteered at a thrift store. I had charge of an entire department by the time I left. We got a lot of great stuff - and a LOT of trash. Underwear smeared with fecal matter. Shoes soaked in cat urine. Torn clothing, broken toys, etc.

    To this I say two things:

    1) Some people are ill - like hoarders - and are literally incapable of throwing things in the trash. Donating their trash to thrift stores - because they compulsively feel it retains value - may be the only way they are capable of disposing of items;

    2) We, like many other thrift stores, had systems in place to recycle this trash. So do places like Goodwill and Savers / Value Village. Cotton goes to the rag trade, other clothing sold in bulk to the international market, shoes to the international market or recycling, toys, etc. And this didn't cost us - this earned us money, by the pound.

    So it may not be clean or tidy work, sorting and separating it all, but we actually threw out very little compared to the quantities we were donated.

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    1. I know much here in Australia are turned into rags and sent to factories and other places where rags are in demand. So whilst clothing that isn't suitable for humans aren't wasted. I do like going to charity stores and one can find great stuff, my local thrift stores do sort through things so only the 'best" is for sale. You are doing a great service for the community :)

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  5. Thank you for the reminder. Jesus Christ gave his best and we can too!

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    1. Thanks for visiting - just hope it makes people think when they give :) have a wonderful day.

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  6. Some good thoughts here. Brought this passage to mind:

    Galatians 2:9-10 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

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  7. Thanks for sharing this challenging post at Good Morning Mondays. The local charity shops in our town have real problems with people giving them their rubbish and I mean rubbish. If I wouldn't buy it, I don't give it. You are right, lets remember what this is all about. Blessings

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    1. We have 2 bins outside of a local Woolies and it can be surrounded by bags of rubbish and the scavengers will go through the bags to see what they can find. By the time the charity truck arrives it is a complete mess and everything has to be taken to the tip. Its all very depressing really. Very true - if you wouldn't buy it, then don't give it away :))) Have a lovely weekend.

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  8. Great post Jo.
    I was only thinking the other week as I drove past our local charity store how sad it is that people dump so much rubbish - and especially after hours because then the most valuable items are often stolen before they even reach the charity. We have been very mindful to make sure we only make our donations during opening hours.
    We thoroughly enjoy the wishing tree idea too and contributed several items this Christmas - we like to teach our daughter that habit of making sure we aren't only thinking about ourselves at Christmas time.

    I must admit that I am guilty of giving clothes I no longer want & kitchen items etc, but then separating the items that are good enough to sell! As I type I have a pile that I was going to ebay in the next month - perhaps now I think those quality items I'm going to make a mindful effort to donate them as well :-) Thanks for the encouragement!

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