Tuesday, January 10, 2017


By Juan Montoya
Remember when Sally Struthers, of All in the Family fame, used to do commercials for the Christian Children's Fund?
In it, Struthers would stand next to an emaciated child in a village from some poor country in Africa and tell the viewer that for only 36 cents a day you could feed and save the starving children. It was very touching and very effective.

But now numerous other organizations have hit upon the formula to wring a few buck a month from generous television viewers promising that it will end the misery of this or the other victim. As jaded as the American donor has become after revelations that the administrators of those charities are the main beneficiaries of their generosity, millions keep pouring in to the groups.
The field, it seems, has gotten a little crowded.
What to do, what to do?
If you're like almost everybody else, you probably cringe when you see the ads from the ASPCA that show emaciated shivering dogs and/or cats chained to a cramped little dog house, if they have any shelter at all.
"For only $18 a month..." the announcer intones.

But then, a little later in the program, St. Luke's Hospital shows kids with cancer without hair in a hospital ward looking winsomely into the camera and asking for your donation.
"For only $18 a month..." the voice over intones.

It only gets worse.

The next ad shows a military veteran in a wheelchair or worse, dismembered, going through his or her physical therapy or playing with their kids without legs or arms.
"For only $18 a month, you can help a wounded warrior..."

Before the legions of supporters of any of these causes accuse us of being callow or of having no heart like the Tinman, let me concede that all these are good causes. Animals need our help and don't deserve to suffer at the hands of humans, who should know better. Kids with cancer are a tragedy and break the hearts of not just their parents, but of other people as well.
And what can you say about vets who went to war and lost an arm or a leg or will remain bedridden for the rest of their lives?

But there is such a thing as donor fatigue and using the same approach to get donations for a cause gets a little weary, if not stressful. To those of us who can ill afford to give to any cause, it might seem moot to argue this, but at some point people might ask, why not fine the owners of the animals to pay for their humane upkeep?
Or in the case of kids with cancer, surely there are foundations and government programs to allay some of the cost.  And as a veteran myself, shouldn't the U.S. government who sent the veterans in harm's way step up to the plate and fully take care of them or their orphans and widows with the assistance of veterans service organizations?

If we could, we're sure most people would gladly donate to all three. But since most people can't do all three, by asking for an $18 monthly donation each, aren't we pitting one worthy cause against the other? Or is it just a sense of guilt we're objecting to?


Anonymous said...

They do that over the phone also. As Nancy Reagan said "JUST SAY NO" and I would add, HANG UP. My 84 yr. old relative got a phone call just yesterday saying she had won a cruise. She hung up.
I see all those tv ads and think, what about the homeless IN BROWNSVILLE> and I am NOT talking about the guy who claims he has HIV and walks around with a strip hanging in his arm. I've seen him driving down central in a bicycle. I am talking about people that sleep down Elizabeth street in a cold bench, on the door by Los Chinitos, by the bus station. They don't have the financial means to take the bus and go to Ozanam. WHAT is the city doing about those people? Running them away? Most of them are old. Ah, but on Sunday we go to church, give a dollar and clear our concience.

Anonymous said...

"Ah, but on Sunday we go to church, give a dollar and clear our conscience."

That's how things work around here. Less education = higher morality.