People asking for free toys

Frankie_in_zone_7December 10, 2009

I listened to some radio stories of folks in these hard times going on Craig's list to ask for toys for their kids. (And other things and help-me requests, too, such as, pay my rent or whatever).

I was surprised when one of the featured requestors said he didn't get any replies.

Not that I'm promoting begging (which was a term thrown around in the report), but certainly the idea of freecycle or other "giveaways" hasn't had a bad rap and it provided a way for folks to get rid of any kind of stuff they didn't need, in whatever way works best for them, and not apparently caring whether they free-cycled their old dining room table to a needy person or a millionaire.

So you know there are all these toys for tots programs and things but it certainly doesn't seem crazy, with all the toys that go in the dumpster or to Goodwill or the church rummage sale, to just give them to someone else directly. Wal-Mart might not like it, but it seems like, if you take a given neighborhood of a few square miles, we could provide for much of our children's Christmas wishes (this would be even more true for small children) by just holding a swap-meet! Perhaps sanitation issues are a bigger concern now. Or you'd like not to have to have someone come by your house, so you'd like a clearing house (which is what Toys for Tots does).

Also I guess that is what the Goodwill store does, not free, but at a low price--but it seems like there'd be room for a complete toy store, with all the plastic doo-hickeys we buy our children.

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We have Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul. All of these charities accept toys and then sell them very, very, cheap. When our kids were young, we shopped there a lot. Also great clothes for children. The only things I bought new were shoes and underwear.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2009 at 9:38PM
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I don't do Toys for Tots, Angel Tree, or anything of the sort after I got to know the kids who got regular hand-outs from such sources. I think the attitude of 95% can be summed up as, "Where's mine?" And if you think most get presents from just one source or that many of them don't ALSO get presents from their parents--often far more expensive than what I grew up with--you're wrong.

It's Operation Christmas Child for us now. All the way. I'll give to shelters, too, but that's it.

I had a Christmas where my present was, seriously, a mattress as a child. I had to have a new mattress (mine was 35 years old and dissolving), and my parents couldn't afford both a mattress and a present. It was far better for me to have no toys than to be given handouts. I'd so done with that.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 6:32AM
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Part of my interest was just that, since I don't know where my "stuff" goes and whether it all ends up in some "deserving" person's household or some gets put in the landfill anyway, that it could be neat for each homeless toy or item actually go to someone who will use it. But of course, it's too difficult to arrange for that, usually.

Our church is doing Christmas gifts and clothes for each kid in our community's main family homeless shelter. I guess we all are just assuming that they don't have much of that from any other source.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 11:00AM
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I suppose some things just shouldn't matter in this season of good will and giving, but I've long had a question no one really seems to answer...

reyesuela touched on it, but there are so many concerns from the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, community centers, churches, the malls, banks, you name it having toy drives, etc., etc. - is there any cross checking between the charities to insure the recipient base isn't going from charity to charity receiving donations from each?

These are tough economic times for many and there are those who were formerly donors who now find themselves needing to be on the receiving end, but it would pain me to think that there are those who take advantage of generosity making it harder for donations to go around and meet all needs. I'm sure there are always some who know how to take advantage of the system, but I'd like to think that number is small.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 2:40PM
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In our area, there are thrift stores that are connected (Financially, not physically) to homeless shelters and shelters for abused women and families. Many of us donate to the thrift stores. They take what is needed for the homeless and sell the rest. It seems a win-win situation. Helps us keep the house manageable and provides a private way for the needy to obtain what they need.

We don't have kids, but I would feel strange donating toys through CL, even though I have given away a lot of household items through CL.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 10:14PM
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Yes, I like that concept where the shelters--and I think one or more of our local ones do this as well--maintain a "closet" of items like work-suitable clothing and kid's clothing for the patrons to select from and get outfitted for job interviews and jobs plus other stuff they need and for kids to stay warm and look reasonable for school, hopefully for free. "Toys" is a term that could be expanded to encompasses all sorts of materials that contribute to a child's well-being and development--books, coloring and drawing supplies, school supplies, balls, dolls, appropriate games-- not the latest electronic gizmo or designer item, but all things that help children channel their energies and develop and help the family trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy.

Sounds like I might try to learn more about how all this works and contribute more!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 9:54AM
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some of the toys for tots type places require that the toys be new ..unused...and unwrapped in original packaging..

i can see that

when we were children..4 girls, mom and dad, we always took good quality used clothing and coats, mitten, hats, and toys to a family that we knew that were hard a we knew who was getting what we were giving.

in MOST ways this was good, however, i think it embarrassed the children of the family we were giving the items to.

made them feel inferior.

when we were poorly off one year, a church 150 miles away, sent us 2 boxes, mostly of food but there were also some nice things in there as gifts and decorations and treats..and then the same year a neighbor gave us a box of food and a box of decorations and toys and treats..that was the best gift we were ever given..and we will likely remember it forever.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 11:50AM
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I just got an e-mail from the local freecycle admins reminding people to KNOCK OFF THE BEGGING!

Asking generically for something might remind someone else that they have a spare coffeemaker or whatever, but our local freecycle message board was filling up with WANTEDs for all kinds of expensive consumer toys, and sob stories about why the had to have that laptop and big screen TV.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 5:46PM
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What Reyesuela said.

Middle and upper class adults who give charity are getting a heck of a lot more out of their blissful sense of virtue than are the recipients of most charitable donations. The givers imagine (and feed their egos from) a gratitude that simply does not exist. Nor should it, really, since the vast majority of charitable donations are not requested. Honestly, I think the donors need the recipients more than the other way around, at Christmas and all year round.

I too have seen both adults and children who have become accustomed to charity, and it has turned me off giving almost altogether. Where I live, families patronize hot lunch programs, mostly don't pay for them, and then go to Disneyland. It's tough to judge, because they aren't wealthy by any means and I sympathize, but I know that people who donate to food programs don't think they're donating trips.

I even have second thoughts quite often about donating used goods to charity (even when it helps organize the house!!). I give them to an organization that is not a charity and that resells them at affordable prices, creating jobs in our community while doing so.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 12:02AM
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My family was definitely poor when I was a kid. One Christmas my only gift was a humidifier for my room. I had allergies and asthma. My parents decided not to buy me some $15 toy so I could sleep well and not get sick and miss school.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 11:14AM
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Yes it is a sad day when so many our out of work or had their hours cut to the point where they can't pay the rent, buy groceries and other necessities but instead have to choose what's most important. The problem comes when others choose to use this to their benefit and beg when they have choosen to not work. Well unless you want to call pan handling and begging their work. They do.
If you have a home church find out if the pastor or secretary knows of any members that are in need. You can also check with local schools secretary, couselor or nurse, they'll know which families are truly in need. This works any time of the year. Not just Christmas.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 11:53AM
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Remember some of the families, even those without children have needs through out the year whether it is food, clothing, furniture or even books. Many adults do like to read. Magazines are good also. Like one poster stated work with your church, social services, or even the school.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 12:45PM
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I have not been on the receiving end of charity much. After each of my two cancer surgeries, the ladies at church prepared a meal and brought it to my house. That is about it.

I grew up relatively poor, not having all these opportunities that I see kids enjoying these days. I paid my own way through college, even though my grades would have earned me a scholarship, because my parents got behind in their business taxes. No financial aid unless my parents were paying taxes. I starved my way through college, but after nine years of part-time classes, I emerged triumphant, with a bachelor's degree. It was not the degree I would have chosen if I could have concentrated on my studies the whole time, but I did recieve an education that most people in the world can only imagine.

So that just gives you a general idea of my background.

I'd like to learn more about charity recipients and what they say about being helped. But those people are not likely to have a computer, or time to type on a forum like this.

I may become the recipient of more charity, because my husband has lost his job due to downsizing, and we have no income any longer, but still have all the same bills, including the mortgage. Our pastor has asked if we need any help yet, and so far, we had enough money in the bank to pay this month's bills. But next month will be a different story. I figured we'd only have enough to last out the end of the year.

So when does a person go from recognizing and appreciating help to feeling perhaps ... ashamed, I guess? When is the offer of help an unwelcome reminder of the helplessness the person feels? The real shame is that so many talented, motivated people are losing their jobs due to someone else's greed and stupidity.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2009 at 7:53PM
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Oh, I give to thrift stores attached to various causes (Lupus, vets, Salvation Army, and Goodwill, among others) all the time. What I mean is donations of new things. No more Toys for Tots or Angel Tree for me. New stuff only goes to shelters and to Operation Christmas Child. We'd give to someone we knew personally--for example, after Katrina, I sent a friend of mine some money to buy basic necessities when her house got destroyed.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 4:53AM
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I've felt the way that many of you feel. We've been managing our donations also. We don't like to subsidize greed, entitlement, or laziness.

Dh went to pick up an Angel Tree request a few years back and he couldn't find one that was acceptable. The requests from those kids weren't things like coats, clothes, or board games. They were all electronic toys and brand name items that were way more expensive than what we buy our kids. When we donate, we donate at the level or quality of what we would buy for our children. We decided those kids must not have enough need if they didn't need clothes or some other basic item.

Dh and I want to teach our child kindness and generosity so we've been focusing more on helping others around us in our daily lives. We've started donating more to the local schools our kids attend. The school is always in need of educational equipment and materials. Dh's employer will match monetary contributions up to a certain amount. The school gets double bang for the buck and we get to designate specifically where we want the money spent. It helps more people. We also like to give the teachers money for supplies too. They spend a lot out of their pockets that we never know about.

I don't know if this is considered a true 'charity', but we've donated a few times to the organizations sending items overseas for our soldiers. These men and women are putting their lives on the line for us and it's a small way to make their day brighter or easier. They like toys too. :) It's okay to send bouncy balls, card games and other tiny, but fun surprises. People who have been in the military tell us it's wonderful to get a surprise that smells like home.

I've put usable household goods on the curb with a free sign for the neighbors to have. It saves me a trip to the thrift store, but it also helps others around me. I've put out beds, shelves, picnic tables, chairs, etc. Several people told me they were 'extra' things they wanted or needed, but were hesitant to buy because of cost.

My other favorite donation place is the food bank. I see it as a way to help the people who are willing to work, but may have lost their jobs or just aren't able to make enough money in their jobs to make ends meet. These people may not qualify for food stamps or other welfare because they have assets like a house or income. Again, I like to donate through the school because some of those donations go to feed my children's classmates. I know the Christmas before last, there was a family in my child's school where the family had lost their job and the school sent them a form to ask what they needed. Their only request was food.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 1:13PM
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Melissa Houser

I have a friend who is working in Iraq right now. She sees poverty among some of her "co-workers" that would astound many of us. She works for a private company that contracts services to the military, and other companies hire workers from other countries as well. Many of those workers are paid atrocious wages, i.e. $400 for a month's work as janitorial people. Since many of those workers are sending most of their pay "home", they don't have much to live on.

In spite of being in a desert, it does get very cold during the rainy season and at night. She noticed that most of the workers didn't have the proper clothes to stay warm and couldn't afford to purchase them on the base.

Last year she sent me $40 with instructions to purchase all of the gloves and knitted caps I could find and send them to her. I bought out my local walmart and added some that were given by various people at my local pack and ship, then the pack and ship sent the box for free. Once they arrived, she had to "throw them away" in order to give them to the people that needed them.

It really puts American "poverty" in perspective when I see how people in other countries live compared to us. Our poorest people are rich beyond measure compared to some of the stories I've seen and heard over the years. I can't even imagine asking for an expensive electronic item when so many people don't even have food to cook.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 11:28AM
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The Angel Tree program provided my 9 year old a bicycle the year my husband left a month before Christmas. I was a student and had no money. I took every and any job but I had to pay bills, Christmas was not going to happen that year. The Angel Tree gave my daughter a Santa to believe in.
Now my daughter and I donate, but I do notice that their are parents that rely on donations to provide Christmas and save their own money for fancied up cars or jewellry, etc. I try to encourage people to just open their eyes and see what is happening in their own neighborhood. Single parents have a hard life, it never hurts to just bring over a casserole or a bag of clothes. They will be greatful.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 1:12PM
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I am DONE with institutional charity! I decided this year to only do direct charity. I have heard and read too many stories about "charities" including a friend who worked as Development Director for a large national charity. These "charities" are businesses - their executives make very high salaries, and the only difference from any other business is they don't pay taxes. Another friend worked for a small local charity and quit in disgust for similar reasons.

Now, when I hear of someone I know either personally or through a freind that needs help, I find a way to annon. help them. Not bragging, but here's what I've done in the past year:
-Bought a pair of winter boots & 3 prs of wool socks for a friend and left them on her porch. A few weeks later she told me about it and ID'd another friend as someone "she just knew did it!" I kept a straight face but had a good laugh later!
-One of my son's friends dad died a year ago, her mom lost her job 6 months later and their house was forclosed due to the medical bills & unemployment. I found out the tiny apartment they moved into, and slipped $200 under the door on my way home from work one night.
-Friends both lost their jobs within 6 months and they have 2 kids. I bought 2 shopping bags of toys I knew their kids would like and left them on their back porch in December.
-A friend had surgery & was off work 3 months. I bought her a weeks worth of groceries and put them in her fridge & pantry while she took a nap. I told her husband not to tell her and he didn't.

We are certainly not rich, but I like to find a way to squeeze a few dollars a week out of the buget & put it in an envelope to use for things like these. Ways I do it is to wait to get home to make coffee, when I'm out and dying to stop and buy a cup, or drink water instead of pop.

The point is - the Bible tells the story of the annon. giver as being more blessed than the ones who give publicly. While I'm not religous, I am a bible scholar. I really think the point is to help one on one - not to give to some tax exempt business.

AND yes, there is a culture of "it's due to me." My 2 friends who worked for charities tell stories about families demanding help and feeling entitled to it. Not someone who lost their job, but "career" charity cases.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 1:29PM
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It puts a smile on my face to read about the nice stuff you've done for other people, mommabird. Way to go!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 1:56PM
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