Char­ity Helps But It’s Not The An­swer

Riverbank News - - PERSPECTIVE - By GLENN MOLLETTE Guest Colum­nist Glenn Mollette is an Amer­i­can syn­di­cated colum­nist and au­thor. He is the au­thor of 11 books and read in all 50 states. This col­umn does not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the view of any or­ga­ni­za­tion, in­sti­tu­tion or this pa­per or m

I’ve been in­volved in benev­o­lent projects for many years. Most of these ef­forts have been buy­ing and dis­tribut­ing food and clothes for the very poor. In re­cent years I have been in­volved in Safe Fresh wa­ter wells for ru­ral South Africa. As long as I live I will be in­volved in some type of Chris­tian re­lated hu­man­i­tar­ian project at some level. I don’t re­gret be­ing con­nected to do­ing some­thing to help peo­ple who are hurt­ing. There is a tremen­dous bless­ing that comes through hand­ing a kid a new pair of ath­letic shoes or a new coat. I wish I could do more.

The prob­lem is that char­ity is not the an­swer. It helps. It’s just not the an­swer. I would take one small fac­tory hir­ing 100 peo­ple in a county over 50 char­i­ties in a county. A pay­check is al­ways bet­ter than a handout. One fac­tory or any em­ployer hir­ing 100 peo­ple at a rea­son­able salary is bet­ter than a bunch of lit­tle char­i­ties rak­ing and scrap­ing to keep a light bulb burn­ing at their lo­cal food bank. Un­for­tu­nately, too many of these char­i­ties are vis­ited once or more a month by low paid work­ers who sim­ply can­not sur­vive on $8 an hour. Thus, you have the un­em­ployed and the work­ing poor who keep the food pantries open and scur­ry­ing for funds to buy cheap food from a larger na­tional net­work chain. Over­all, Amer­ica must have higher wages. We hear too much about stick­ing higher wages to a few cer­tain cor­po­ra­tions. How­ever, we must bring real pay­ing jobs back to Amer­ica from coast to coast.

Sadly, I can go back to the same places where food and clothes have been dis­bursed and noth­ing has changed. The same lit­tle shacks with the same fam­i­lies live in­side. As I have heard, give a man a fish and you’ll feed him again and again. Teach him to fish and he will feed him­self.

Non-prof­its need to fo­cus on cre­at­ing some jobs for their com­mu­ni­ties. I re­al­ize this is sel­dom seen as a mis­sion of some such en­ti­ties but it’s way past time as our na­tion strug­gles eco­nom­i­cally. Most churches have idle space Mon­day through Satur­day. Why not help a small busi­ness or two get on their feet? Cheap rent and a lit­tle con­gre­ga­tional sup­port might en­able some­body to get started in a busi­ness that might even­tu­ally hire oth­ers. Years ago, one of our lo­cal churches put in a Sub­way restau­rant as a way to help church mem­bers have em­ploy­ment. Churches have to do more than just plan the next potluck din­ner. What if your church or non­profit could help a few peo­ple out of un­em­ploy­ment? Surely, this would be the be­gin­ning path to a brighter life. Also think about how you might help oth­ers ed­u­ca­tion­ally. You could pro­vide a free In­ter­net Café with some weekly adult ed­u­ca­tion. Please know there are lots of peo­ple out there in your com­mu­nity who do not know how to do any­thing. Some train­ing might save them and a fu­ture gen­er­a­tion.

If you are feel­ing en­tre­pre­neur­ial start some­thing that hires peo­ple. When Fri­day comes ev­ery­body will be bet­ter off if you are hand­ing out pay­checks in­stead of free soup and sand­wiches. Char­ity helps but it’s not the an­swer.

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