On Charity

Disclaimer: This is neither an official, nor an approved, page for Canadian Food for Children. It is my personal observations and comments re charity in general and this one in particular.

The charity has its headquarters in Etobicoke / Toronto, and its warehouse is in Mississauga. We (I can say we, because I have volunteered here for a few years) ship containers of food and supplies to third world countries. We reach something like 30 countries, some of which have several recipient locations. In all cases the recipient is visited from time to time by a volunteer who travels, on his/her own dime. We know our recipient distributors. One of my co-workers has been to Africa at least twice, the Philippines, Honduras, and El Salvador. I content myself with lifting boxes on Wednesdays and doing the list (container contents) on Thursdays.

Last financial statement I saw, the charity is about 97% efficient. Nobody is paid, with the single exception of an accountant. We do have professional maintenance of our forklifts. There are volunteers in the GTA, across Ontario, and satellite helper groups of significant numbers elsewhere, including at least one major operation in British Columbia and another in Kitchener. There are many groups who regularly bring us food and clothing. Individuals bring us donations in the trunks and back seats of their cars.

You may have seen shipping containers. The container ships pictured in the Panama Canal are carrying them, for example. There are three sizes, twenty foot, forty foot, and an oversize super-tall forty or forty-five foot container. In a typical year we ship approximately four hundred containers. That works out to about two per working non-holiday day.

If you are faint of heart, do not get onto this charity’s mailing list. (I call the letters, read this and destroy yourself missives.) There are before pictures of starving children. There are horror stories of displaced and/or brutalized families. Fortunately there are also after pictures, shedding some hope on this planet for our least fortunate fellow human beings. These letters are heartbreaking. They also include a message of hope, and document the effective reach of this charity into some very difficult situations.

Much of what we ship is donated. Major corporations have donated cookies, cereal, sauces, jams, flour, pasta, soap (a precious commodity), and many other items. Individuals and groups gather Christmas packages, clothing, canned food, bicycles, mechanical sewing machines, tools.

While the main focus is on food, clothing can be a necessity. The strategic value of a bicycle to a travelling nurse, or a plastic bucket to one hiking to get water, can be imagined.

Many also give cash. I used to call this helping the ea$y way as that was what I did before I volunteered. I should be more generous. The charity uses donated money to maintain the building, pay for shipping, and purchase key commodities we might not otherwise get – cooking oil, for example, is necessary to absorb vitamin D.

This is a plug for this charity, obviously. But I also mean it as a provocation in the de Bono sense. If you aren’t giving anything back, nothing at all, what are you? If you’ve never been helped when down and helpless, what do you think of propagating that world view?

To quote Pope John Paul II on World Youth Day: You will not be content to live in a world where other human beings die of hunger.

Disclaimer: I am not Catholic. I am not even a good Christian. But I can contribute to something besides myself, at least for a few hours once in a while.

4 thoughts on “On Charity

  1. Jim, I’m going to cross-post. On another page you had, cheap weed or not, 5 requests, the last being an attempt for world peace.

    If those who ARE in a position to be charitable could be so, even a little, and see the difference they can make; then maybe, just maybe, they might step back from their border aggression, blatant land encroachment and religious fanaticism and start believing that there is an alternative to war, illegal settlement building and terrorism.
    Unfortunately, in this case, the snowball-effect has to start from up on high and no one has the balls to do so.

    • I’ve had a re-think on this and similar world problems. Maybe I’m ‘smoking cheap dope’ again, but I believe that a closed society can sometimes ‘come together’ and improve their socity from the bottom up – sort of like Amana or the Amish – and exclude dissidents.
      However, with globalization and easy travel, there are few closed societies, and those from which profit or resources can be taken, will be broken into. So, I have little reason for optimism, as the one percent becomes even rarer while also becoming richer. The wrong people are winning this game of Monopoly, and now they can buy rule changes.

  2. As a Christian, I of course help others in need, whether that be holding a door open for an old lady with a cane or giving food to someone on the street. You should know that as a Christian, I never disclose almost anything that I do to help someone who needs it, regardless of how large or small the gift or assistance, or what type it might be. I believe that God rewards those who give secretly. There is nothing wrong with giving openly, but when one gives to be seen giving by others, God says, “You already have your reward” – the approval of others.
    This makes it pretty tough to create and maintain a website about a charity, it adds another level of challenge – the challenge to do so only for the sake of others. I personally believe that we will never have world peace and will never end world hunger until the world ends at the return of Christ. Those who would respond in kneejerk fashion that I am an uneducated “fundamentalist” might consider that I personally would cut off my arm, at the very least, to end world hunger right now. What a wonderful sacrifice that would be to make! Unfortunately, the world does not work that way. For millenia, what Peter Maas calls “the wolf” has lived in human hearts and only waits for opportunity to get out. The release of the wolf causes war, famine, atrocity, horror, genocide. When in Mogadishu a warlord opens fire with a machine gun on starving masses so that he can be on the top of the food chain, literally, the wolf is already loose in him. All we can do is our best and pray for our enemies, ourselves, and each other, in this world which has and has always had an obscene amount of cruelty, despite God’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Keep working, people. God is with you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *