Charity Begins At Home? Maybe Not.

I sat in the most comfortable chair in the house, with my feet propped up on the ottoman in my living room, under a light blanket, and a perfectly warm cup of coffee on the end table, watching the news.  I saw the videos, heard the stories and read the many tweets that came through about the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti.  Soon after the story broke, I saw a wonderful thing happening – people pitching in to help.  Some even decided to help out the hands-on kind of way and make their way to volunteer in rescue and relief efforts.  How great is that?  So far, millions of dollars have been raised for charity.  In fact, the Red Cross reported they were able to raise five million dollars already, through their texting “haiti” to 90999 campaign.

The earthquake occurred on January 12th.  That was three days ago.  Five million dollars raised in three days.  That’s pretty impressive.  Then I thought, well wait a minute.  Isn’t there an estimated 2.3 to 3.5 million people that experience homelessness in the US each year according to a study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty?  And didn’t The Bureau of Labor Statistics (PDF) report the unemployment rate at 10% on January 8, 2010?  Wow, for a people trying to pull themselves out of a recession, the US sure is generous.  Where did we come up with all this spare change?

While I think it’s great that the US is so eager to assist other countries during their time of need, I often wonder how many of us remember that we are also in need.  For ever penny we contribute to other countries, shouldn’t an equal contribution be made to our own.  Is it idealistic of me to think we should contribute double the amount of money or resources we contribute to others?

$5,000,000 in three days.  Can you imagine what that kind of money could do for us here?


16 thoughts on “Charity Begins At Home? Maybe Not.

  1. …and one more thing…
    I saw that someone had mentioned… Hey! Remember those gazillion trailers (manufactured homes) that we have sitting in AR that were for Katrina vics, but are still sitting here… why not send those to Haiti?

    And furthermore, Marianne, what was your thought about the huge cruise ship that docked there at Haiti just this week? I read that some passengers had a problem with cavorting (love that word) on the beach while 2 blocks away there were many bodies stacked up on the street til someone could DO something with them. The cruise line said, hey, Haiti NEEDS the tourism dollars right now. Hm. Methinks the cruise line put their head up their own arse and didnt want to trouble themselves to make ajdustments (or refunds to customers). IF they cared so much, why not send a ship w/ nothing but Dr’s, nurses, food, meds, beds, blankets and freakin BANDAIDS?

    Singer/songwriter James Taylor is putting on a concert in Maine Friday w/ticket sales going entirely to ‘Help for Haiti’, and James said he would match dollar for dollar, the amt. raised, out of his own pocket. Thank you, JT. The concert sold out in 1½ hrs, so he is doing another concert on sat. night as well. Thats what we need… ppl putting their money where their mouth is.

    Thank you, Marianne. I do feel better.

    • Most those trailers, I’ve heard, are up for auction. I wonder how much it would cost to send those out there. May not be a bad idea.

      A cruise ship? Are you serious? I hadn’t heard about that, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit. *shakes head* I would really have a hard time being one of those tourists lying on the beach.

      You and J.T. I am still surprised that you haven’t made your way to be one of his roadies. He is one of the good guys, after all. I love that he’s matching dollar-for-dollar. That’s awesome.

  2. Marianne,

    Thanks for this post. I frequently have the same thoughts when I think about all the poverty here in America. What about people in Appalachia or other incredibly impoverished areas of the US?

    Yes, what happened in Haiti is beyond terrible. And, I am happy that when tragedy strikes, somehow people find the money to mobilize. However, I completely agree with you. Why don’t Americans put that same effort into helping fellow citizens on a daily basis?

    With the incredible recession here, there are more and more homeless people flooding the streets, more Americans going to bed hungry, and people losing their homes. Why isn’t everyone considering THAT to be a disaster?

    Thanks for your thought provoking piece.

    • Frankly, I’m a little surprised by all the comments I’ve received on this post. I really didn’t think anyone would comment, let alone agree with me on some points. Thank you so much for commenting.

      • Funny how that works, huh? Sometimes I think I put up a blog post that I think is great, and nuthin’. Then I put up something random and it gets lotsa comments. The same with tweets.

        Glad you’re getting lotsa traffic with your post, though. Congrats!

  3. Thank you for saying this. Yes, your heartstrings are tugged. Its a horrid thing that has happened. I still get teary eyed thinking about Katrina. And dont get me started on 9/11 (even tho man-made disaster).

    I listen to the prez on the news, and he’s talking all kinds of things I dont understand about M.O.N.E.Y. & B.a.n.k.s… what the hell? WE ARE our brothers keeper, to a degree. As compassionate individuals, we SHOULD help when we can, but I feel we need to ‘make sense of our pocket-change’ first, kinda like you are saying Marianne. WE HAVE that kind of pocket change laying around? I cant help but wonder about those homeless ppl & their pocket change… about the ppl like myself, who cannot afford the medication I need to just be able to work daily. SO many sad stories…. everyday ppl and their needs. So, whats the answer? Have a certain amt set up for charitables. Some say we do already. Still, I get nervous. Recession? Makes one want to bury their pocket change under the dog house… IF one had some.

    (am on steriods, please ignore. heh)

    • Steroids or not, it’s good to hear from you again. 🙂 I wonder how many of your medications you had to put aside in order to pay for the steroid shot. I know you have such a hard time keeping up with your own medications, let alone think about helping someone else in another country.

      Ya know, I saw it reported somewhere that The Red Cross has now received close to 10 million in donations now? How awesome would be to also hear that in addition to the 10 million donated to Haiti, that 20 million has also been donated for our own who can’t afford the medication they need in order to survive?

  4. I said to my finance “I’m not working, maybe I should go down to help” knowing that there is no way that I could financially or even physically help once I got there, if I could. But as I watch the news I just get this feeling that I should help.

    It is hard to imagine that there are people here, in our own country, that are legitimately without food and shelter. I say legitimately without because there are always those people who say they are in need but actually are not. But as I sit here being laid off for 10 months now, I wonder were my future will be. I can’t imagine that things could get that bad that I would need help from strangers. I know I have support systems so if all else fails and I can’t find any work I do have alternate options for living and food. But what if I did not. have that support? Its scary to imagine, so we can’t help those that we don’t want to believe exists

    • It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the media coverage, and rightly so. Haiti’s suffered a great deal. There is no doubt that they will be able to rebuild. I hope Haiti will take this opportunity to become a much more self-reliant country. Teach man to fish, right?

  5. I still find it hard to belive in this day and age we have people living on the streets. I talk to homeless people weekly as part of my ministry and try to give them hope for the future. I’m humbled by their stories and what has brought them to homelessness. I love my friends that live on the streets and will serve them until God calls me. I’m saddened by the tragedy in Haiti, I’ve prayed for the safety of everyone still not found. My thoughts and prays also go out to the families that are still waiting to hear.

    We do need to take care of our own at home also, lets not forget them now as we are consumed by the media reporting about Haita.

    God’s Blessings
    Mr. Bob

    If you’d like to follow our journey please visit:

    • I believe that many have been consumed by the media coverage of Haiti and I have such a hard time with that, knowing that there are so many here that have been forgotten.

      I know first-hand what it’s like to be homeless and to be fortunate enough to be taken in by a shelter with two kids. I remember what a struggle it was for me to get out of there and off of welfare. It’s people like you that made all the difference in the world for me. Truly. Thank you.

  6. It seems we are a very generous people, even when we don’t have enough for ourselves. I’m glad so many people care about the Haitians, but we also need to care about each other. That’s why I do all my giving through my church. They distribute it where it is most needed and I know I have done my duty to my fellow man. Our church has already sent aid and supplies to Haiti. They are already on the ground helping wherever they can and doing whatever they can. I know that without question. I know I have contributed by paying my tithing each week, so I don’t need to make myself feel better by sending money I don’t have to charities I’m not sure will distribute it to the intended destination. I’m with you. We DO need to concern ourselves with our needy here at home. I do that on a regular basis also. But I’m glad we’re helping the people in Haiti. I would hope that the people of the world would do the same for us if the situation were reversed. I know they probably wouldn’t — us being so self-sufficient and all — but I would hope so anyway.

    • I like the thought of giving through tithing. You make another point too: Haiti has been receiving funds from church organizations as well as federal funding for years. Unfortunately, it’s also my understanding the Haitian government is even more corrupt than our own, and the Haitians don’t get to see much of the money received, except through church or other private organizations.

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