The Case For Guerrilla Charity: An Opinion

Let me just start out by saying that I, like everybody else, worry about money.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s talk about charity and money.

A lot of young people aren’t in the financial position to be giving money away. Each dollar is hard earned and life is expensive.

I remember when I graduated University it took about three seconds before the school started calling my house asking me to donate.

My family thought that was really funny. Like I would have any money! Get out of town…

Whatever your reasons are for holding onto your money, I’m sure they are warranted. After all it’s yours to do with how you see fit, that’s the best part about it being yours.

Whether you are saving for a house, paying off student debt, or planning for a rainy day, your money helps you make decisions that can benefit you going down the road into the future.

That’s why getting people to part ways with their money is extra difficult.

I’m assuming that most young people would like to assist charities and what not, but refrain because the immediate problems in their lives have not gone away (if you do give to charity, kudos to you!).

Reasons why people don’t give to charity

If you are like me, then you don’t officially give any of your money away to charitable organizations. There are a bunch of reasons for this. But the two major ones are (at least for my demographic).

1) It’s not budgeted for

At the end of the month a young person in their 20’s is lucky if they have a dollar left over. It’s pretty expensive to live so it’s understandable.

2) People want their money to go towards actual people in need

Many people have problems giving to charity because a lot of their donation will go towards admin, and perhaps will not directly land into the lives of those in need.

It’s not that they don’t represent a worthy cause, they are often very good causes (think Oxfam), it’s just charities have employees to pay and generally speaking people are less enthused about that. But as a side note, charities could not do the positive things they do without employees so as far as giving money away, it is the cost of doing business.

This is where street level charity (Guerrilla charity if you will) comes into the equation.

Guerrilla Charity

I don’t know where exactly you live, but there are bound to be people who are struggling to make ends meet, or some that are homeless. Because I grew up in a large city I’ve always known about those who are significantly less fortunate than me.

And this is what I’ve determined. If I didn’t have a family that loved me I would definitely be in a severe pickle. I needed support through my schooling and then with my struggles with my mental health and substance abuse.

Say my family wasn’t very patient at all, or imagine I totally burned my bridges with them. I would totally be on my own, and that I almost certainly could not do very easily.

First off, I would not have been able to afford school. Second, my career options would be limited. * I’m not saying that not going to University is a death sentence.

Now imagine something goes wrong, like you have some medical condition that requires expensive medication. If there was no one there willing to help, this might throw off your delicate budget and then you are in the hole financially speaking.

Of course there are government programs and social assistance for such instances, but lets say there are other compounding factors to the situation, like a debilitating drug habit or mental illness.

Why give it away?

When you have no one who cares for you and you are sick (physically or mentally) it is quite easy to end up on the streets.

It is at this moment, that you will be depending on the kindness of strangers for the ability to make decisions. Whether you can eat, get medication, or shelter, will all depend on what others allow you to have.

People should not have to choose between food and sanity, but sadly that is the situation we live in today.

That is why street level charity is so important, no matter how much you give. Whether it is a loonie, some loose change, or a 10 dollar bill. That small act of kindness will increase a person’s ability to make the appropriate choices for running their lives.

You might think that I have generalized a bit, and I have. There are probably infinite reasons someone loses their home, but what is true is that the predominant reasons are mental health and addiction related.

Empowering others to make the right decisions

So some people say, “don’t waste your money on that guy, he’s just going to buy beer.”

To that I say, of course he is. Because giving money to someone doesn’t treat them of their problems it only allows them to make more decisions in a day. Decisions which could then lead to treatment in the future, if they take it upon themselves.

Giving what you can (whatever is in your pocket) can empower someone to make those choices that matter to the quality of their life and their situation could improve dramatically.

I remember once I was getting a hamburger, and I looked really shitty. I had a two month beard, I had not showered and I was wearing a couple sweaters instead of a jacket. Someone came up to me and offered to pay for my food. At the time I was offended because I just looked shitty, I wasn’t in financial need. But now I am touched by that act, because someone sought to feed me. Had I been in need that would have made all the difference.

The point is, helping someone with just a little bit of money could go a long way. Like I addressed earlier, it might affect their choices vis-a-vis food, or medication, and that would be unquestionably be a positive thing for them.

Give a stranger a chance

The more positive things happen for them, the better their circumstances, the more likely they are going to be at getting back on their feet. Because one thing that is for sure, is that people can rectify their situation if given a chance.

The unfortunate thing is that when someone is on the street they are depending on strangers to give them that chance, so getting looked over is quite easy.

Even if you don’t want to give someone money, because simply you are too strapped, you could always give clothing that you no longer want/need (almost everyone can do this), like an old jacket, shirt, or warm socks.

It’s important to give people on the street money (or anything) because they obviously need to make decisions to live. And as much as is reasonable, we collectively should not allow suffering to take place.

A Final thought

I’d like to have enough money to regularly give to the charities of my choice one day. But for right now that is just not in the cards.

What I can do, is help those who are obviously in need all around me in the city I call home.

It’s as easy as tossing someone a toonie every now and then. Simple as that.

If you know of some great charities that help those in need, please feel free to address them in the comments.

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