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Thanks? For Giving

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 22, 2009

It feels good to give. However a pause is sometimes needed between thought and action. Feeling good about doing something does not mean you met your intention of doing good.

I occasionally volunteer at the Clintonville Community Resources Center (CCRC) usually for the Sunday breakfast program. When there, I am reminded that there are many people in need. The people that serve those in need are in need of many things: time, money, volunteers, resources, etc. As I sort through donations I see many items that are not really donations but good intentioned misrouted trash or recycling. A used coloring book, a water damaged college textbook on computer science from the 1980’s and one odd sock are not gifts. The saddest thing that I see are donated food items.

CCRC has a Wall of Shame, which is really a set of shelves. The wall is a collection of the most unusual and upsetting food donations. I took some photos to share with you.

The black stuff were mini corns....

Cheese Whiz turns brown after a while, this one is from 1994

Moldy Marshmallow Creme - not even full

Food Club is from the Big Bear era.....

Chrome Polish..mmm, mmm, good!

I know many of these items arrived by accident. However a few extra moments could have saved the wrong items from arriving at the wrong place. Whenever you drop off a box of donations it needs to be sorted – that takes time and labor. When your donation can’t be used it needs to be disposed of – that takes time and money. A donation that can’t be used is actually an anti-donation – it steals resources from the organization.

In the realm of food, the item that has been lurking in your cupboard because you did not want to eat it….. someone else probably will not either. How will your donation be used with the more typical items that are donated? A breakable glass jar of exotic olives, is not going to pair too well with the more typical and easily transportable bulk donations of pasta, peanut butter, canned tuna and canned tomato sauce. Many of the food donations go to families with small children who are not known for their culinary courage.

The best donation to make is often monetary which does not need to be sorted, shelved or carried and has an infinite shelf life. Information I have read indicates that a $1 donation can translate to a meal for five people – that is impressive. The Mid Ohio Food Bank is a an organization that does an exceptional jobs getting food to those that need it. A growing percentage of their meals are coming from Ohio farms to avoid having fresh produce perish in the fields.

So now that I am done with that rant, let me move on to another that is exacerbated by the holidays. People also feel good about recycling but too often I see people recycling wrongly especially around the holidays. The thing that drives me to absolute rage are overflowing recycling dumpsters. Here is a general rule to be a good citzen – if the dumpster is full – don’t dump your materials on the ground nearby and complain as you drive away that “someone should do something.” That someone is you. If the dumpster is full move on to another location or find out when the dumpsters are going to be emptied and come back later. The massive amounts of recycling and junk floating around overstuffed dumpsters after the holidays do not inspire non-recyclers nor do they inspire people to want to offer their property as a dumpster location. As for the heaps of materials that are left at the side of the dumpsters and scattered by the wind – that is known as litter – which is illegal – and cleaning up that mess takes time and money that could be invested in better recycling services. Please flatten and cut up your cardboard boxes, crush aluminum cans, smash down plastic bottles and try to leave room for the next person that wants to feel good about dumping recycling instead of having it in their trunk for another week.

So, if you want to do good – do so with more than good intentions and know that everything you give needs to be received to make the effort used to get it from you to the person that receives it worthwhile. No one wants a rusty can of mushroom soup. When you recycle, remember that recycling saves resources but costs money, so when you recycle poorly, you are taking money away from the recycling system.

One Response to “Thanks? For Giving”

  1. Rachel said

    One thing that a lot of Columbus residents don’t know is that the CRC will accept produce donations. I gave 10% of my garden harvest this year. The fresh fruits and vegetables are very much appreciated.

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