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To Say That’s Giving Is Charitable

, , , , | Right | November 1, 2021

I volunteer for a charity that helps the homeless. We’re not a shelter, since we don’t have the resources for overnight stays, but we are able to provide a place where people can come to have a hot meal and a shower and spend a few hours inside when it’s cold out, and we also help out with contacts to social and healthcare services.

Most of the food we serve is donated from restaurants and grocery stores that give us leftovers and things they can’t sell but are still perfectly good to eat. We also get donations from private citizens, and a few times every year, we have a drive that we coordinate with the local grocery stores. Customers can add some non-perishables like canned food and dry pasta to their order and donate them, and the store matches the donations.

We have a little table set up at the checkout where we collect donations and take notes so the store manager knows how much extra stuff they should give us at the end of the day.

A customer who’s just come into the store spots our table and comes up to us.

Customer: “A homeless charity, huh? That’s great. I always say we ought to help our own homeless before we help foreigners who only come here for handouts, you know?”

I try to keep my expression as neutral as possible, as I recognize this is a popular argument that racists like to throw around as an excuse to deny help for refugees.

Customer: “You know what, I’m going to get you some stuff. You’ll make sure it goes to the real Swedes, right? The ones who need it?”

Me: “We do our best to help anyone who needs it.”

Customer: “So, if I give you stuff, you might give it to some [racist slur for Muslims] who just got here?”

Me: “If they’re homeless and come to us for help, yes.”

The customer walks away looking disappointed. I figure he won’t donate anything. However, a little while later, he comes back, having finished his shopping, and I’m pleasantly surprised. Maybe he was able to overcome his prejudices in order to help someone in need? He hands me a bag holding canned soup and instant ramen packages.

Customer: “Here you go! I made sure to only get stuff with pork in it. That way it won’t go to some [slur]!”

He left, looking very satisfied with himself, and I just silently shook my head over how petty some people can be.

Most of the people we help wouldn’t care one way or another. However, I made sure to note down a polite request to the store manager to match this man’s donation using items WITHOUT pork, just in case. Yep, I can be petty, too.

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