Thursday, September 01, 2011

You Lying Cheating Old Bag

I’m not a hard hearted uncharitable person but whenever these things get posted through my letterbox I feel a certain uprising of bile. An upsurge of suspicion and impatience. And then I invariably scoop them up and put them straight into the rubbish bin. I’ve done it for years. I don’t think I have ever filled one up and left it outside for collection.

I am, of course, talking about charity bags.

Pretty much every week some chancer who plainly can’t take a hint insists on shoving one of these tacky plastic bags through my door. They want old clothes, shoes, fetish gear, gimp masks, post amnesty assault rifles, bedsteads and Anderson Shelter manuals – basically anything; anything at all that you don’t want anymore and that you would normally Freebay onto a deserving person; anything that they can then sell on the black market in Europe and make quite a nice tidy sum for themselves thank you very much.

Because this is the disheartening truth.

Most of these so called charity bags collections are not done to alleviate the suffering of the poor but are done to inflate the bank accounts of a few dodgy individuals who believe that charity starts and ends at home. Preferably yours.

Some of the less dodgy ones do send some of the money on to the charities they claim to support but we are talking the tiniest percentage here; the smallest amount they can skim off the top. According to recent research by the British Heart Foundation we are talking as little as 5%.

And this is sad and it is wrong. I mean here I am celebrating my cynicism because it has saved me from being duped but actually that’s an appalling indictment of society. People organize a charity collection and my first reaction is to say, “yeah right, as if” and bin the collecting bag.

The people that truly lose out are, as always, the poor and the needy.

But it is the likes of you and me who are also being cheated. We’re cheated when we donate stuff and imagine that it will be going to a good home; that it will help make someone’s life a little better. That we are doing a good and useful thing. It leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth. Especially when we are all tightening out belts at the moment and these ‘charity collectors’ are making a very nice tidy living out of our cast-offs.

Karen and I have never responded to cold callers – not to sellers and not to charity workers. Not ever. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it feels mean. But our ethos has always been when we give to charity we will choose the charity for ourselves and organize the nature of the donation ourselves. It is the only way to be sure that the donation is going to the right people and not into the pockets of some muck-grubbing scheister.

So there you have it. Proof, if any were needed, that the world is as screwy as it’s ever going to get: charity and cynicism go hand-in-hand like love and marriage.

Tough love: it’s the only way.

Do give generously.



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25 comments:

John Gray said...

chuggers are the worst....hate them and their big smiling faces and over affectionate manner...

arrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Steve said...

John: had to Google chuggers - never heard that expression before. I thought it might be something to do with Keith Chegwin. Thankfully not that bad... but I share your dislike of them.

Martin Lower said...

Good on you! We never fill those things either. My wife runs a charity shop for a local hospice, so we have a ready outlet for all our unwanted curios (junk).
The bags are useful for filling with plastic bottles for the kerbside recycling collection
Oh, and welcome to the Society for Miserable Gits. I thought I was the only member.....

the fly in the web said...

I'd never come across this...but in rural France the idea of giving something would never have taken on anyway.
Here I see shops called Ropa Americana, where clothes donated to charities get down here and are sold off in job lots to be sold on in these shops...

Follow the best traditions of Aberdeen in charity giving...
Aberdeen on a flag day...everyone stays home.
Aberdeen on a house to house collection day...everyone out shopping.

I have a deep rooted suspicion of charities...like you I like to choose my own.

Steve said...

Martin: you may still be the only member. I like to think of myself as the chairman. You just can't get the staff these days.

The fly in the web: I've never yet managed to time it right so that I can be home when these plastic bags are shoved through my letterbox... because I'd dearly love to open the door and throw the damn thing straight back out at the delivery person. I'm happy to donate my ire free of charge.

Heather said...

It makes me sick the way people are on the take in the name of charity. they ought to be taken out and shot. Bloody buggers. Grr.

Rol said...

Having just put out of a bag full of old tat earlier this week for a charity collector... are you seriously telling me it won't go to the charity on the bag?

Now I'm depressed.

Steve said...

Heather: they should be shot and then put out for the rubbish in their own charity bags.

Rol: it's true, I'm afraid. Read it and weep - BBC News. All your old tank tops have gone to boost some spiv's bank account rather than to keep some homeless person warm.

Gorilla Bananas said...

This is an apt moment to promote a wholly legitimate charity which enables British women to help their African sisters. It's colloquially known as Bras for Africa.
(African women tend to be rather well stacked, so under-endowed ladies might consider other destinations for their surplus chest gear.)

Marginalia said...

Little point in trying to touch you for a fiver then.

How do carol singers fare in your neck of the wood?

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: we have a couple of old colanders if they're any use?

Marginalia: they get their throats cuts. Or choked with mince pies if I happen to be feeling festive.

Nana Go-Go said...

Yes, I heard about that on the radio yesterday. The safest way to ensure you`re serving the charities in the best way possible is to go to their shops and deposit the stuff there yourself.A vile pox on all chuggers. (I haven`t Googled it yet so I`ve probably gone and made a complete plonker of myself on here....yet again!).Have a good weekend my friend.

Steve said...

Nana Go-Go: chuggers are the scourge of the earth. But mostly the scourge of Boots The Chemist shop doorway where they mostly hang out. I've had to start buying my meds online. Thank God for spam.

Kelloggsville said...

I fill the British Heart Foundation, Air Ambulance and Sally Army bags. I think they are genuine collections and it's easier than me having to try to get to a charity shop when it's open.
The rest I use for bin liners :)
Although sometimes we just leave a box of stuff at the tip and watch the local vultures pick over it. It's wonderful entertainment - no honestly it is.

Being Me said...

I agree with you. Steve and I are the same and it does feel harsh at the time (we're constantly politely declining requests to donate when they phone and door-knock, so much so that I recently put a 'No cold callers' sign on our doorbell and feel like a cold-hearted bitch for it). But really, as you say, it's the only way to ensure it gets where it needs to go when you seek out the charity of your choice.

I've begun giving our things to local emergency women's shelters (where they and their children are being housed after having to urgently leave their violent homes). I know it goes where it's meant and I know our things aren't being sold.

Vicky said...

We tend to take the stuff direct to the charity shop and drop it off. Mind you I have heard that staff take firts dibs on what is dropped off :(

Owen said...

I'm not sure it is safe to say the world is as screwy as it is going to get...

Each time we think we have seen the worst, and then some idiot hell bent on destruction or madness or greed goes and tops it.

As much as I wish to remain optimistic, it becomes harder and harder with each passing bout of insanity...

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: I think you're pretty safe with the BHF given it was them that compiled the report on charity bag collections in the first place. I hope so anyway - let's hope the bags aren't counterfeit!

Being Me: so with you. Ny grandparents also had a no col callers sign on their door and they were the most generous people on the planet. Say yes to generosity; no to gullibility.

Vicky: I wouldn't have a problem with that as long as they paid fair whack for it.

Owen: the voice of cynicism is, alas, probably the voice of reason and truth...

TimeWarden said...

The only charity I've donated to recently is for those poor, hard-up, penniless bankers although, actually, they just dipped their grubby little protuberances into my account and helped themselves. No wonder I've lost interest!

Steve said...

TimeWarden: that's true! Hey - I've already given to charity this year in that case and I'm still giving! Time for me to get out my own begging bowl methinks...

London City Mum said...

Charity begins at home.
Probably why my youngest is wearing frayed tops and too-short trousers with gaping holes in the knees.
Nothing like a hand-me-down.
Times three.

LCM x

Steve said...

LCM: I wouldn't mind some cha-cha heels if you have any?

Mark said...

Been away, catching up. Forgive lack of comments please.

Never knew that about charity bags; the bastards. Agree about cold calling too. If phoned I just say, 'how, nice you've called, can you hang on a minute'... and then I start playing the banjo.

The Dotterel said...

Apropos Mr Bananas' comment, a group of sixth-formers at a school I worked in many, many years ago organised a 'Knickers for Nicaragua' appeal, successfully persuading many of their fellow students - plus a few staff - to donate their underwear...

Nicaragua was in need at the time, I hasten to add. Just not in need of underwear.

Steve said...

Mark: I usually try it with a kazoo but alas I can't even carry a tune in a bucket.

TheDotterel: those knickers would have made someone a small fortune in Soho...