First of all, a few days ago they wrote: “We respectfully request that people stop dropping off abandoned and bug infested furniture and clothing on our porch. We do not have staff or vehicles or money to keep doing dump runs. Please check with us before leaving donations.”
And I think we can apply that to the rest of our day-to-day lives as well. The Golden Rule, we all know, is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Loving your neighbor as yourself generally means NOT giving your neighbor cast-off clothing infested with vermin, unless your neighbor is Oscar the Grouch.
When you give an item to a charity, you are giving that item to a human, a person, someone with the same dignity you yourself have. So you shouldn’t give them something that you wouldn’t give to somebody you love under the same circumstances.
Old broken furniture and bric-a-brac should be recycled or taken to the dump if you can’t recycle them. Maybe ask your artist and iconographer friends if they would like your broken furniture if it’s broken into neat wooden boards, but even then don’t do it if there are bugs. Raggedy clothing can be left at locations that have a rag recycling program– I think Goodwill has one. Gently used but serviceable clothes, furniture and household items that you don’t happen to want for yourself can get donated to a thrift store, or given to your friends if they’d like them, or given to a shelter like the Friendship Room if they’re asking for that sort of thing. If you’re not sure whether they want it, call ahead and ask. And don’t be offended if they take a long time to get back to you, because most places like that don’t have a well-staffed hotline. They’re just a group of overworked volunteers doing their best.
Anything infested with bedbugs goes in the trash, and the trash bag gets securely tied off and put outside in the can. Maybe throw some diatomaceous earth in there too for good measure. Don’t inflict bedbugs on anybody else. If you wouldn’t give your best friend a bedbug infestation, don’t do it to a poor person. I didn’t think that needed to be said.
The Friendship Room also have some great news. If you follow them on Facebook, you know they’ve been trying to get a van to help them ferry people and supplies around Steubenville. Yesterday evening they wrote, “We want to thank an anonymous donor who gifted us this van today!” with a photo of a nice shiny silver mini van.
I have been thrilled all day just thinking about this, as well as puzzled over how you anonymously donate a van. I’m picturing somebody driving up to the Friendship Room wearing a black mask like the Hamburglar. The sneaky donor parks the car, leaves the keys in the ignition, sticks a giant bow on top, runs up to the porch, rings the bell, and runs off down the alley to hide. Or maybe they drove the van from their hideout with some kind of remote control drone, like a Batman villain did in the video my brother had growing up. I am sure the answer is much more pedestrian than this, but I don’t want to know it because I like my version better. Thank God for that anonymous donor, whoever she or he is.
If you are in the Steubenville and Weirton area or happen to be passing through, please consider going to the Friendship Room with some bags of groceries for their Little Free Pantry. It’s the duplex with the blue doors at 419 Logan Street, right next to St. Peter’s. Last I checked they had a communal fridge on the porch, and if you don’t see that you can ring the doorbell and hand them any perishables. Everything that’s shelf-stable can go straight into the bright green pantry cupboard built onto the porch without having to check with anyone. They take toiletries such as toilet paper, soap and toothpaste as well as food. Make sure the food and toiletries you bring are of a quality you’d use yourself, and try to remember the different food groups to get them a balanced diet. Also remember that a lot of low-income people have bad teeth, so soft foods with no whole nuts or seeds in them will be much more useful than hard things like carrot sticks and sunflower seeds. And in my experience, they don’t need sacks of plain unflavored dry beans or sliced white bread and hot dog buns with nothing to go on them. Every time I go there they have a few of those. A complete meal like hearty soup, or a box of pasta plus a jar of good sauce and a jar of cheese, or all the ingredients for a chili, would be much better. Don’t forget sauces and seasonings.
If you’re not close by, you can still help. You can have shelf-stable food, toiletries and cleaning supplies delivered to the Friendship Room’s PO box at Center of Hope/Friendship Room, PO Box 53, Steubenville, Oh, 43952. If you shop on Amazon, bear in mind that you can go to smile.amazon.com, select the Friendship Room as your charity, and shop as you normally would, and a small donation will be made to the Friendship Room at no cost to you. You can also just mail them a check. The worst that could happen is they’d be well supplied for the next time there’s a great need. I’ve never seen anything in the free pantry stay there for more than a day.
Thank you so much for your devotion to Christ in the disguise of the poor.
And no more bedbugs, please.
(image via Pixabay)