Rubbish outside a charity bin in north Christchurch. Photo: Sarah Watkeys

Charity recipients deserve our respect. Not this.

Christmas is when charities receive some of their biggest donations – and for a lot of organisations their time of greatest need. So why do so many of us insist on giving them junk they don’t want?

‘Tis the season of giving. And for the poor to be ever so grateful for whatever rubbish we give them.

‘Tis the season to eat, drink, and be merry. Unless of course you’re poor, in which case you should be far too busy appreciating the hell out of all the junk the rest of us wouldn’t touch.

I regularly walk past our local clothing bin. I never put anything in it as it’s always full to overflowing. In fact, I took a photo just before the latest collection which shows a lot of extra stuff on the street.

Photo: Sarah Watkeys

I talked with the gentlemen emptying the bin and asked them a few questions:

What happens to all this stuff?

The bag of clothing goes to the second hand clothing shop in Ferrymead for sorting. The rubbish goes to the dump.

There’s always rubbish here. Isn’t that a lot in dump fees?

It’s about $3,000 per week. That’s not just this collection point though, it’s all the collection points throughout Christchurch.

Did you say $3,000?

Yes.

Per week?

Yes.

There’s a used pizza box here. And one right shoe.

I know. It’s ridiculous.

The pizza box. Photo: Sarah Watkeys

So there you have it. The poor should just be grateful for this used empty pizza box. They can use it to insulate their homes. I mean, sure, it might be a fire hazard. Not a problem for me though, it’s not my house.

And someone should be grateful for that lonely shoe. I couldn’t find the left one so at least their right foot will be warm.

And as for the half-used makeup and beauty products, I only dipped my fingers in it a few times and smeared the applicator all over my face. The bacteria I’ve introduced to it will help the poor become more resilient to different strains.

Oh, yeah, I also stuck a religious brochure in the collection for the Women’s Refuge. It asks, “What is the key to happy family life? Do you think it is: love, money, or something else?” Surely it’s not the fact that he’s verbally or physically abusive that’s making those experiencing domestic violence unhappy.

And, as for the tins of tomatoes and chickpeas that one Women’s Refuge did not want, surely it’s possible to eat only those two foods day in and day out? Especially since we don’t want to donate anything else to put with them. And then, when the families they support get sick from such a limited diet, we can blame them for not eating properly.

Used makeup recently donated to a charity. Photo: supplied

Charities throughout the country are reliant on us to support them. They have a limited budget, and really cannot afford to be spending thousands of dollars on getting rid of our rubbish. These funds are supposed to be for supporting those in need, not for getting rid of your waste. Let’s give them stuff they can actually use. Or even give money directly to the charities, so they can buy stuff that’s actually going to be useful.

When a charity asks for a specific item, please make sure it’s actually in good condition. The poor have just as much right to dignity as the rest of us. If a charity is asking for items to help people feel good about themselves, which happens to be an important human need, please think about it and make sure what you give is actually going to make someone feel good.

In fact, think about how you would feel if someone were to give you the item you are giving. Would you be happy with an empty pizza box? Probably not. Would you be happy with a voucher for free pizza? Probably. Give the voucher to someone and put the box in the bin.

Would you be happy to be given one right shoe? Would you be happy to be given a half used tube of toothpaste? Or a used deodorant? Would you be happy with tins and tins of tomatoes and chickpeas, with nothing else to go with it – except for maybe a recipe book featuring all the ingredients you don’t have?

This Christmas, please give generously. Give generously in a way that will help and uplift others. Give dignity. Give hope. And don’t be a douche.


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