Juggling life through a bi-polar lens. Sometimes up, sometimes down. Mostly trying to tread water in the middle. Creating a likeness to a normal life. Whatever "normal" is...

Monday, 9 July 2007

Charity can be cruel

Carol at Shrink Wrapped Scream is doing a post on pushy charities today. In it she mentions the little collection boxes that children bring home from school. She ends up with four.

This isn't a new thing. I remember getting one when I was about 10 (er... circa 1977!). Looking back, I hate that they gave it to me. I still remember my child's eye view of it-

The boxes were given out in assembly, you had no choice whether or not to take one.

Well, my family just never had anything to put in them. We kids didn't get pocket money, and mum just had no spare pennies. I remember finding her in tears one morning and when I asked her why, she said, she didn't have enough money for both- she needed to buy our breakfast (porridge oats) but also some sanitary towels for herself. I was too innocent to really understand what she meant. I went next door and asked if we could have some oats. I'm glad I decided on the oats and not the ST's...

Anyway, it was a Catholic school and we all went en masse to Mass every Wednesday morning. One Wednesday the whole Mass was arranged around each class processing up with their filled boxes, lots of coins for kids in the third world. We had rehearsals and it was drummed into us how bad it would look if we didn't have a box, 'cos we'd still have to go in procession. Well ours had been thrown away months before.

That Wednesday morning was the only time I ever played truant. I just walked round and round the estate till I thought Mass would be over. Got there just as they were going into class. I just sneaked in line. A girl asked where I had been, I lied and said the dentist. My class-teacher overheard me. I looked up and saw him. I can't describe his expression, but it said that he knew I was lying, but wouldn't do anything, 'cos he understood. Maybe then, at least one teacher saw how potentially cruel the practice was.

The shiver of fear that went up my spine as I spotted him came back as I was typing this.

9 comments:

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

It still has the power to hurt you, even today. Most often it's not the actual charity, it the way some people choose to "enforce" it who are simply plain wrong. I think all public displays of giving to charity (when it involves children) should only be organised by the parents involved. Children are far too vunerable to be "named and shamed" for turning up empty-handed, and certainly, too many parents today are already living barely above the bread-line.

Chewy said...

Hey Helen! I had no idea you were finally getting on with this blog. I have nothing to say about charities at this moment... I do have some of that Catholic guilt that's driven into us. HA!

Want I want to say is, you very creative in all your blogs.

Lady_T said...

I like the decor of this blog, hmm nice!

I can't remember being given a charity box but i do remember that in primary school we had something called the 2p race and the class with the longest line of 2ps got a jar of sweets. We all nagged our parents to give us 2ps so we could win. Our class never won.

I heard now its a 5p race, look at that...

Helena said...

Shrinky,

I didn't even start on the clipboard brigade! There is a street in Colchester you can't walk through without being stopped at least 3 times. I'm sure hte little shops down it suffer, as you end up reluctant to stop to look in windows.

I try to avoid the entire street. I walked down it yesterday and even after waving him off and saying "no thank you" at least twice, one fella was virtually chasing after me to get me to sign up to something!

Helena said...

Cool Chewy, from you that's really a compliment! Thank you! I really enjoyed playing with the design of this one.

Helena said...

lady_t

thank you for the compliment re the blog decor. The paper background was just rubbish from my desk thrown onto the scanner.

The other, main background, was a small part of a photo of dry, cracked earth, blurred and colour-altered in my photo-editor thingy.
It was fun. Getting the colours to match was sheer fluke. LOL.

Hmmm...2p races. No, we didn't have those.
We did have Smarties tubes though. Every chikd got a tube of Smarties which we could eat. Then we had to fill them up with pennies. The smug kids used 5ps. I used pennies, buttons, blue-tac, and any foreign coins that fit.

Ha!

Chalkhills Collective said...

Aggh those little boxes, I remember mine being pink. I hated it about as much as I hated being dragged to Mass every Sunday.

Helena said...

Ahhh! Yes, pink! And with little photo's of starving African children all round them....

Yup! I could never see the sense of being frog-marched to Mass. If you don't want to be there, don't want to go, what does it do? Surely it's what's happening on the inside of you that counts in spiritual matters? If you're sitting there bored/resentful/scared/asleep(!) what's the point?

Victorya said...

Ugh, I hate those too. I wrote about one- the diabetes walk where my mother took the money and used it on herself. The shame from that too. That's what a lot of these charities seem to do - just shame you into giving, and use cute little kids who have the guilt complex the rest of their lives.