Charity Doesn’t Have To Start At Home

, , , , | Hopeless | June 24, 2017

(A woman and her young son have come into the charity shop I volunteer with. She was in the previous week asking for us to hold a couple children’s VHS cassettes.)

Me: “Hi there. I’ve got everything right here.”

Woman: “Thank you. Could you please tell me how much it all costs? I’m afraid I can’t remember.”

Me: “£10.99.”

Woman: *sighs* “Do you mind if I take quick look at them first?”

(I had them over and she kneels on the ground so she is at eye level with her son.)

Woman: “Okay, [Son]. Mummy had to buy bulbs this week, so she can only buy one.”

(The son looks upset, but he chooses one. I’m honestly holding back tears as the woman looks at the other two and mumbles about “maybe next month.” I have an idea.)

Me: “Umm, [Son]. There’s some toys over there. Since you’ve been really grown up, I’ll let you take one.”

(The son’s eyes light up instantly and he runs off.)

Me: *whispering* “Look, I’ll pay for everything.”

Woman: “Oh. No, you don’t have to do that!”

Me: “I know I don’t, but I am. You shouldn’t have to decide between bulbs and your son’s happiness.”

(She tries to argue back, but I refuse. When she leaves though she does seem considerably more relaxed, and the son is ecstatic with his new Pikachu toy.)

Me: “[Boss], can you come and put through the sale. I’m paying for it.”

(He starts putting it through and I pay for it on my card.)

Boss: “You know, this is your first and only warning. I’ve seen plenty of do-gooders like you who think they can make poverty disappear with a few good deeds. I can guarantee that she will be spending that money on heroin the second she can offload her son. This is a charity shop. Our charity comes from the time we spend here, selling other people’s crap!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but if I have to lose my place here so I can help people so worse off that they can’t even spend TEN POUNDS, then please, by all means accept this as my resignation. Get stuffed!”

(As I left I bumped into the woman again, and we sat down for coffee. I now babysit her son free of charge, meaning she can work more hours so money isn’t as tight any more. She and her son are in a much better place. I also found another charity shop which a more compassionate staff.)

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