an hour standing in our local shopping centre this afternoon. I am also going to do something I do not like doing. I am going to "sell badges" for the Christmas Bowl appeal.
The Christmas Bowl appeal is an inter-church, inter-fath effort to raise money for those in need at Christmas time - an attempt to make people think beyond the commercialism of Christmas celebrations.
Locally this is organised every year by the church my father attends. Every year it becomes harder and harder to find people who are actually able and willing to stand there for an hour with a collection box and a roll of stickers. Nobody gets paid to do the Christmas Bowl Appeal collection and it is, quite frankly, rather embarrassing to "beg" - even for a good cause.
Other people however do it all the time. Our local shopping centre is over-loaded with charity collectors. Once it was confined to Fridays only. Now it is six days a week. Only on Sundays is the shopping centre free of someone, sometimes more than one person, collecting for charity. There are people who are employed to do this. Local shoppers see them collecting for one charity and then another. They get paid (a pittance) to collect money. They spend their days standing or sitting there. They sometimes have a visible disability but, more often, they will have a mental illness. Their discomfort is obvious but they are required to do the job. It is part of their "rehabilitation" or their "contract" with the social services supposedly caring for them.
More often than not they will know nothing about the charity for which they are collecting. Some of them "entertain" themselves by listening to music. Others stare into space. A few try to accost shoppers with something like a "Hello, how are you today?" Most shoppers ignore them and walk on. It is simply not possible to give something every day of the week and people are now more aware of how little actually goes to the charity in question when money is raised in this way. Endeavouring to raise money in this way is inefficient and demeaning for those who do it.
I do not feel much happier about what I am doing but I will at least be labelled "volunteer". It is a one day of the year effort not a regular one. All the money raised apart from the barest of expenses (for tins and rolls of sticky badges) will go to the causes being supported. I have done it before and people will do things like empty their pockets or purses of loose change. Sometimes they will even say something like, "You're only here once" or "It's Christmas".
It is easier to be charitable then.