Ah, the holidays - a season for family and friends, celebration and joy. It also happens to be that time of the year when people open their hearts and their pocketbooks to strangers.
From slipping a few coins in a kettle outside a store to purchasing an entire Christmas for a family in need, the stories of holiday giving fill me with a genuine sense of pride and hope for mankind.
But last year, I discovered something remarkable - some people are incredibly picky when it comes to donating.
Now, let's get this straight - I understand not giving money or goods to an organization you don't support and I understand not being able to afford to donate. I even understand a general, "I just don't want to give" attitude.
What I don't understand, is being picky with the giving. When you agree to donate something to an organization, you place your trust in the organization that they will find the people who need them the most.
For example, I had the great pleasure of working at a bookstore last year. Every year, this bookstore gives patrons the opportunity to purchase a book and have it donated to a child in local schools.
The purpose of this book drive was to give students in need a book to keep. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that children across America can have food in their stomach and a roof over their head and yet not own a simple luxury such as a book.
It is really remarkable how many people purchased these books, carefully selecting ones that had meant something to them as children and willingly purchasing them (at costs that sometimes exceeded $20) for a child they did not know.
And then, there were those who did not want to purchase for a variety of reasons and that never bothered me. I understand that the holidays are stressful enough without being hit-up by every charity looking for help. I even had one guy who huffed, "If kids want to read, they can visit a library."
But in all that, what bothered me were the people who did not want to purchase the books if they could not choose the school it went to.
I can see why people might not believe giving a book is a worthy charitable act, but the ones who wanted to give, but only to a single school, puzzled me. These books weren't going to the school library or for classroom use. They were going to a single child, a child these purchasers would never know.
So what difference did it make if the child was in the school of their choosing or not? If a child is in need of a donation, does it matter what school they go to? I mean, when I donate blood, I don't specify that it needs to go to a Sunnyside resident. I'm just happy to know it helped somebody.
I don't know why these people are so inclined to help one school over another. I imagine it has something to do with their kids attending the school, but it is possible that the school they had in mind is a poor school and needs help...but then, wouldn't it go to say that such a school will likely be receiving donated books from that organization - books donated from a kind heart who did not care which school it went to.
To me, wanting to choose the school is placing one group of children over another. The message I got was that these people do not hold children as equals and that breaks my heart.
When it comes to children, there should be no picking and choosing - no valuing one group over another.
That attitude doesn't belong in our society...and certainly doesn't belong in the holidays.