Opinion

HELEN LANG: Pick your charities carefully

Last week I cast some nervous doubt on whether World Vision actually does send donated money to children you may sponsor, hoping that the W.V.’s claims are really true.

Today’s mail brought me the answer. (which in itself is amazing.)

I got a letter from the young boy in whose name I send money each month ... not much money as I don’t have a lot to spare.

Because you read so much about all the scams being carried out on the poor, unsuspecting saps of this world, I did wonder if I, too, was being duped.

It seems not and needless to say I was thrilled to receive it.

He is just a kid and his letter was in Spanish, but World Vision translated it for me and it was a thank-you letter, which nearly made me cry. He also enclosed a picture he had drawn. He is no Rembrant, but to me it is beautiful and so wonderful to receive. I may frame it.

Before this he was simply a name, now he is someone I know. His name is Czramaga Alarcon, Kevin. I have a grandson called Kevin, which makes it even nicer.

This is a Christmas gift for me, and I couldn’t be much happier than I am today.

Give a donation to a charity and you’ve done it to yourself.

Many of them seem to pass your name on to other charitable fund raisers, each with a pathetic story, usually with pictures of starving children to rattle your heart strings. It really upsets me. I want to do what I can to help as many as possible, but there comes a time when I can do no more.

Every day now the mail brings another begging letter, detailing the needs of starving Africans, freezing Afghanistani cave dwellers, hungry Gobi desert tent people, thirsty pigmies, tuskless elephants, oh, I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

I think your only hope is to choose one which seems honest, in some foreign country (World Vision) and then try to help needy people in your own country, perhaps through some charity such as the one in Victoria which feeds street people (Our Place).

There is one wonderful organization situated in Esquimalt that sends what is most needed to countries where there has been a disaster of some sort.

They don’t attempt to arrive immediately, leaving that task to doctors, nurses and people able to erect shelters or dig wells. They come in later with clothing, canned food and household goods such as cooking pots and pans and blankets, garden tools, fishing equipment, things necessary for folks to re-establish their way of life.

It is called the Compassionate Resource Warehouse. If you want to give money, that, too is acceptable. They use this money to purchase what is most needed in whichever part of the world is in most distress. I have been to their warehouse, and it is a hive of activity, peopled by volunteer men and women with strong backs and big hearts, plus huge shipping containers filling up with donated essentials, including hope — all the things one needs to stay alive.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.

 

 

Correction

 

In Helen Lang’s last column (Dec. 5), there was an incorrect measurement in her recipe for almond cookies. The correct amount of cream of tartar is 1 teaspoon, not one cup. — Editor

 

 

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