Here in Arizona, and in my old home state of California, it's "book bag week." Corporates like Walmart and Target, and kind hearted individuals donate both money and time to stuff book bags with school supplies, then hand them out by the hundreds.
God help me but I have become so cynical about all these public give aways. It seems always to be the same people lining up for something free, whether it's free book bags, or the food bank, or free Obamaphones, free school breakfast and lunch tickets, or lining up at the welfare office for a green check and a food stamp card.
Half of America has become a nation of "takers", feeling no shame in gaming the system whether the need is merited or not. I can remember when people were ashamed to be on welfare...now there is no shame and so many believe they are entitled to the freebies, and if they don't get them they're more than willing to riot and raise hell until they do!
A few years ago PBS aired a series about the dustbowl. Farm families who had lost everything were starving. Along came President Roosevelt with a subsistence program, and damned if those old farmers were too embarrassed to take a government check! They felt that taking something they hadn't earned was a shameful thing!
How far we have come from that time of rugged individualism. Far too many of us have become whining twits who revel in identifying ourselves as a "victim"....even when our circumstances were due to our own personal failings.
So, again, God help me, but I find it very, very hard to be sympathetic to anyone getting charity in any form. In fact it is damned hard to find anyone who truly deserves my charity. So I donate to the care of animals and to St. Jude's Children's Cancer Research hospital, and that's pretty much it.
I no longer pick a star from a store Christmas tree and buy a gift for a needy child...because I've seen to many of those stars belonging to parents who are working for cash under the table, drawing welfare, scoring free school lunches and Section 8 housing vouchers, raiding the food banks, lining up for free giveaways, and living far better than I live myself! I see people driving up to food banks in late model SUV's, sporting a smart phone on their belt, and augmenting their food stamp allowances with free food at the food bank. Sometimes I see those same people attending professional sports events....events that I can't afford but they can because they are gaming the system of giveaways so magnificently.
So no book bag donations for me. Is there a small group of kids that really need a book bag? Yes, most probably. But I know for a fact that far too many of those kids belong to families who have learned to game the system for all that it's worth.
Several years ago I looked into joining a group of volunteers who delivered free turkey dinners at Thanksgiving. At the first meeting to discuss the project I heard story after story of folks who had delivered free Turkey dinner boxes to folks who signed up for them. They said when they entered the homes people were watching football on big screen televisions, their kids playing games on expensive gaming systems, chatting with family on their smart phones, with a late model car parked out front. I chose not to participate.
I hear constantly about childhood hunger and all I see are morbidly obese school kids hopping a bus to take them four blocks to their home. Everywhere I go I see folks lining up for free give aways. I read about college kids getting free Pell Grants and minority scholarships and eating out at fast food joints on their food stamp card.
I've just seen too much of the gamers and not nearly enough of the truly needed. So don't ask me to donate to your book bag drive. Sad. Damned Sad.