Enlighten me about donations

On Twitter over the weekend, someone tweeted a statement opining that people who donate to Occupy Wall Street but have never donated to a food pantry, soup kitchen or homeless shelter are hypocrites.

Yes, Twitter is the place where people spout all sorts of opinions. I should have just ignored it, but I replied that I found it hard to believe anyone in the US might not have donated to a food pantry at some point in time.

The person replied that yes, there are people who have never donated to a food pantry, soup kitchen or homeless shelter, either money or goods.

Why do I not believe this? Food donation is dear to my heart, and if you read The Boys Upstairs, you saw it there as well, but it’s not just my skewed perspective. Food pantry donations are ingrained in our society right now. My children’s old school had a yearly Mitten Drive for the kindergarteners to bring mittens for children in homeless shelters. My children’s new school has food drives twice a year for the Angelborough Food Pantry.

Libraries in both Angelborough and Angeltown accepted food donations in lieu of library fines, and because they didn’t tally up the food donation amounts, you could in theory walk in the door with an armload of books overdue by eighteen months and hand them a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle. Even someone who didn’t believe in giving to charity would probably rummage in their closet for that.

You’ll note both those institutions are public: the libraries and the schools aren’t encouraging you to donate food because Jesus, Moses, Buddha and Muhammad said all the cool people are doing it. They’re encouraging it because it’s a practical need that every person has. But anyone affiliated with a religious institution is probably given opportunities to donate to the hungry and the homeless through them as well.

Call me naive if you want, but because it’s so pervasive, I can’t see anyone not having donated at least once to a shelter or a food pantry unless they made a conscious decision never to do so. But then again, those people also wouldn’t have donated to Occupy Wall Street.

So let’s here it: tell me I’m wrong, because you guys are good at pointing out when I’ve been boneheaded. Excluding people who are under eighteen, people whose finances don’t permit donations, and anyone with a developmental disability (although I know people in all three categories who do donate), do you know an actual person (but no names please) who has never donated to a food pantry, soup kitchen or homeless shelter?


  1. Pat

    I think there must be some, but I agree that there cannot be many, considering how very, very easy it is to do so. There may be those who do not donate to anything as a matter of principle (odd principle, that); and generally, I am of the opinion that almost any kind of person you can think of exists somewhere, because people are bizarre.

    But no, I do not personally know anyone who has not donated to a food bank or homeless shelter in some way, at some time. Of course, I don’t know the donation history of most of my acquaintance.

    1. philangelus

      If we’re assuming the only way to avoid giving to a food pantry at some point is a matter of principle, then the person probably brags about it. 😉

      I don’t ask people about their donations either. I figure that’s up to them, and I don’t care. You’re probably right that every sort of person exists, but at least in the US, it’s so built-in to the system. It’s like saying there are people who’ve never driven on a toll road. Maybe…but it seems like it would be VERY hard to do over the long term.

  2. Meaghan

    Well, I don’t have kids in school (we did bring cans in when we were in school), I don’t attend church regularly, and I rarely have the chance to go to the library. Those are the only places that I’ve seen having food donations.

    Well, actually, my Weight Watchers meeting does, challenging us to bring a can per pound we loose, but I’m not sure where that food is going. And I haven’t lost a whole pound since that started 😛

    So, I haven’t donated yet, but I really can’t say that I never will. I probably will at some point, it just hasn’t happened yet (in my adult life, at least).

    1. philangelus

      So it sounds like a logistics problem rather than a conscious decision. My local grocery stores also take food donations, but I’ve never seen that done anywhere else.

      1. Pat

        Grocery stores do it here, too, and they did it where I lived before, so that may be another common way.