Yesterday I spent three hours at an upscale, expensive organic store. I was not shopping, I was handing out fliers and collecting canned food for our City’s Holiday Drive. My family handed fliers out to just about every person who entered the store. We added a little comment, “There’s a box in cafe for a canned food donation if you can help today.” Simple enough.
Just grab one extra can of food while you are in the store and drop it in the big box on the way out. If everyone entering the store participated, we really would have been well on our way to feeding the 725 families who can’t afford Thanksgiving dinner.
During the last hour I sat at the box and we didn’t get any donations. Now, I’m willing to admit that the City did not do the best job in laying out the flier, but the store manager was also making announcements. Some people might have felt that it was a gimmick by the store to sell more canned goods. This might be true, but we will collect food for these families and it needs to be purchased somewhere. All this said, it really was a pitiful amount of donations. I watched the people leaving with their expensive orders on their credit cards and really couldn’t believe how few helped.
I’m involved with another food collection each year through the Boy Scouts. Usually I blame the lack of people participating with Food for Scouting on people not remembering to purchase the food, or forgetting to put the bag of food out, or not understanding what to do with the bag when they receive it.
After watching family after family walk past my box without a single can being donated, I’ve changed my mind about people and their altruistic tendencies. This setup was too convenient, too easy, right at their fingertips and they still didn’t reach for an extra can. They didn’t think they needed to help. They weren’t moved to think of others. They just didn’t seem to care.
I haven’t given up, because a few people even bought store cards so we can buy turkeys and the people who did donate were so happy to help and felt so good. People who cared really cared. I feel sad for all the rest.