Mixed view on TV discussion of this. What do you think?
I think it’s pretty brazen and I would never do it, but if people chose to give their money that’s up to them. It’s not like she lied to them.
I agree. No-one’s been swindled here. I think the critics are just jealous they didn’t think of the idea!
Shameless panhandling and a pitiful, depressing example. I feel sorry for her daughters. As for the donors, a fool and his money are soon parted.
Agreed. I suppose I would have more issue with the people who donated than her asking. She asked, they gave.
Since I work with (well, volunteer with) underprivileged kids in Detroit, I’ve been surprised at the completely different mindset those who are in poverty sometimes have. It seems illogical. But when you look at it from their perspective, in many ways you can’t blame them.
For example, there was one story (I heard this one second hand…so I may have the details off, but it exemplifies the gist) where a girl kept showing up to school in the same clothes every single day. One of the teachers asked why, and the girl said she didn’t have anything else to wear. So, the teacher started raising money so the the girl and her family could buy new clothes. After presenting them with the money, the girl continued to show up to school every day in the same clothes. So, the teacher eventually asked why. The girl said that they used the money to take a vacation (I think it might have been to Disney in fact, although I don’t remember for sure). At first, the teacher was appalled. But the girl explained that never in all their life, including her mother’s life, had they ever been able to afford to go on a vacation anywhere. But they always had just enough money to scrape by otherwise. They didn’t mind wearing the same clothes.
When I first heard this story, I thought how irresponsible. But then I thought how I was placing my own lifestyle on them. I think it is important to have new(er) clothes, for example, because I always have. And so the idea of spending it on a vacation (which I also always take) instead seems wrong. At the same time, these are people who otherwise never step outside their own zip code for their entire life.
You were right the first time.
I wasn’t, actually. Took me a lot of time working with these kids to start to see things differently.
Here’s another thing. So, I was surprised to see a lot of these kids showing up for tutoring wearing the very latest/greatest shoes, but they might not have heat in their home at night. Crazy. But then one of the guys who runs the organization we partner with for tutoring talked about this very thing. He pointed out that most of these kids are lucky to have even ONE parent. And for many of them, that one parent is drug-addicted. Or they live with grandparents who are barely making it, etc. These kids are DESPERATE to have someone who loves them/respects them. And so having ONE nice thing (whether it is shoes, a cell phone, etc) when they have NOTHING else physically, nor emotionally, gives them a sense of self-worth they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Being British I am, of course, a socialist. Well, I’m not, but I am a bleeding-heart liberal.
We live in societies that are riven with inequality. And it often seems to me that the rich feel very entitled to their wealth and don’t seem to be able to understand why the poor are poor. I’m not religious but I tend to think “there but for the grace of God go I”.
Rich people will defend their wealth by telling you how hard they work. As if the poorly paid don’t work hard. I suspect it’s a lot of easier for rich people to work long hours than poor people because of the nature of the work. Try working long hours in a factory, doing mindless, repetitive work. Or working in a care home, cleaning up all kinds of things all day long.
Rich people will suggest poor people improve their situation. It’s not always that easy. I’m paid pretty well thanks to the education I had. I was genuinely lucky to attend the high school and university that I did — thanks to the determination of my parents and the fact that I was born with a decent brain. Not everyone has those opportunities.
I was working in a private school many years ago and the kids were returning from the Christmas break. I asked them what they’d been doing. The vast majority had gone on skiing holidays. Around the same time there was a widely reported problem of “joy riding” — kids stealing cards and racing them around the roads.
It seemed to me that my students and those kids were doing the same thing. Getting an adrenaline rush. It’s just the kids from the wrong side of the tracks weren’t being taken on skiing holidays by their parents.
I’m not advocating crime. I’m saying when push comes to shove we all want the same things. Some people find those things substantially easier to get than others. This woman wanted to take her kids to Disney World. We all get that. There was no way she could afford to. This was not her “fault”. So she did something rather enterprising. And people entirely freely gave a little of their own money to make it happen. No-one was swindled, and a couple of kids had a wonderful experience.
Good for them. And thank God I don’t have to do the same.
I think that’s different. The money was raised for clothes and they went on holiday. Would people have given money for that? I’d be furious if I’d donated.
Yes, you were. Understandably so, but still wrong. We’ll have to courteously disagree on this one. It’s not the children’s fault their value systems are warped, but it’s still sad because that warped system is the reason that they and their offspring are more likely to remain in poverty than to rise above it.
I’m a descendant of sharecroppers who never owned much more than the clothes on their backs. My father worked full time at age 10 to buy his own school clothes. My mother went to work in the shirt factory full time at 16 because that was the only way she could get out of the cotton fields. She paid to install the first indoor plumbing in the home she was (literally) born in and grew up in (and hers was not a loving and nurturing upbringing, I assure you). I still feel a twinge of shame when I recall having to wear shoes to school that had the toes cut out of them.
This morning I’m relaxing in my room at the Yacht Club. Last night I paid a triple digit bill for dinner for two with my own money. I will not be in debt when I get home. I can do this because of the sacrifices my parents and grandparents made, and because of the lessons and values they passed down to me. I would have loved to have the same stuff as other kids growing up. My parents chose to give me a brighter future instead.
I know you said you’re working with kids with little or no family support structure. I’ll be working with them when they become adults and their grim futures are pretty much sealed. Nothing would please me more than for you to put me out of a job. Rationalizing their dead-end reasoning is not going to do that.
Indeed. I understand that. But my job is sometimes to understand THEIR position, not necessarily justify mine.
In Detroit, for example, the public transportation is almost worthless, and there aren’t nearly enough jobs to support the number of people living there. Most of the new jobs coming in go to educated folks who commute into the city and then leave. Could the individuals do more? Perhaps. But it isn’t so easy. The schools are horrible, and they don’t have enough money coming into them to improve them.
Volunteerism, and other ways of making ourselves truly aware of the experiences of others (insofar as we are able, understanding that we can never completely understand), is so important in arriving at a different perspective such as you present here. Thank you for volunteering, and for sharing the experience for others to learn from.
This. So very very very much this. One stroke of bad luck and most of us could find ourselves in dire circumstances in pretty short order.
This is so true. Despite having done this for 8 years now, I’m still surprised how much I don’t understand and continue to learn about the lives of these kids. It is transformative!
The thing is, when one gives a gift, one should truly understand they are giving a gift. The giving part is your business. What a person does with that gift is their business.
Yes but would people have given the gift if they knew the recipients were going to spend it on a holiday? That’s where this is different from the original story. Maybe they would have given money anyway. I bet a lot wouldn’t have.
I think you are justified in your feelings. But at the same time, I think @OBNurseNH’s point is apt as well.
Consider this: Let’s say I buy my son and DIL a new couch for Christmas, because I know they need a new couch. I give them they couch, and they say, “Thanks.” Then, they return the couch and buy themselves an XBox. I would NEVER have bought them an XBox! But it wasn’t my decision at that point.
Possibly not. I get the frustration. But if the donors wished that the family had new clothes, they could have purchased new clothes instead of donating cash.
I recently ran into this with giving a gift to my sister for her bridal shower and wedding. She basically asked for cash for both events, and while that is not an unusual gift, I was appalled at what I felt was the crassness of asking outright for money. As such I opted to give something that was not cash, feeling that her intentions for the money are not in line with what I agree with.
All that said, the individuals could have chosen to sell the clothing for cash if that were what had been donated instead.
I understand being upset - I would be too, in fairness. But that doesn’t change that what a person does with a gift I give isn’t any of my business. It might change what I give - or if I give - in the future though.
I do take your points (you too @ryan1) about gifts - I don’t dispute that at all. I do think donating is different. I have to buy my mum a Christmas present for example, even if there’s a strong possibility she’ll regift it to someone else or exchange it. I don’t have to donate to Cancer Research though, I could choose to donate to the local hospice. I make an informed decision. I guess this situation falls somewhere in between, Since the family didn’t ask for the money, I suppose there’s no obligation on them to spend it in a certain way. I’d still be furious though if I’d given money believing it was specifically for clothes.
I guess my point is to step away for a moment from how YOU feel about it, and think about how THEY see it.
Imagine living your life within city limits that you have NEVER been outside of your entire life. You have no means to even GET outside those city limits (other than walking). You have no prospects of a job nor education that offers you any sense of hope. But you are scraping by. You have a roof over your head (sometimes barely) and clothes on your back. Suddenly, you have been gifted money. You could buy more clothes. But you have clothes. You could buy more food, but you have enough food, even if barely so. But when would such an opportunity to give your family an experience they have never had, nor WILL EVER have again? What is more valuable? Having a second set of jeans in your closet? Or a memory with your family that will last a lifetime?
When looked at from that perspective, one could argue that spending the money on the vacation is the MORE PRUDENT decision.