Tuesday, March 4, 2014

It Isn’t Giving if It’s Garbage

After more than twenty years working in the Church, I continue to be amazed when I come across what some consider a gift. Our Church collects food in the Narthex, like many other Churches, and thankfully we average one ton of food collected each year. But once, I happened to look inside the basket and check out what people had donated. It was an exceptionally large collection that particular week, which is why I looked in the first place. What I found not only amazed me, it was a bit depressing. Someone had cleaned out their pantry and donated the food to the Church for the poor. NOT ONE item in the bunch was still “good” as EVERYTHING had expired. Some was even expired by more than three years. Now I know many of us will ignore expiration dates a few days, but THREE YEARS!? What possesses people to donate this garbage? It would need to be thrown away at the shelter, and that was IF they had chosen to double check; not to mention the reputation of the Church when it was discovered where the food originated in the first place. I threw at all away!

Great Lent is a time of giving. We give ourselves to God in increased prayer, fasting, attending Church services, and by giving to others. Saint John Chrysostom taught that the money we save by fasting should be given to the poor. But it isn’t really giving if the items we donate are otherwise meant for the garbage.

Whether it is food that has expired or old clothing filled with holes, just because someone can’t afford something nice “off the shelf” doesn’t mean they deserve garbage. I have even heard, much as I would prefer to pretend I hadn’t, the poor should be thankful for what they get. REALLY!? Thankful to be eating our garbage? PLEASE! Where is the love in that?

During this Great Lenten season, set aside some groceries for the soup kitchen/pantry and each week BUY a few extra cans to be donated. It is always ok to bring items you already have, especially this time of year since, if you are fasting, you won’t eat certain foods until Pascha, and they will spoil by then. This week would be a good opportunity for example to bring the extra cheese and meats that are still fresh in your refrigerators. Why should good food rot just because you are fasting? But under NO CIRCUMSTANCES, should the food be expired, spoiled, ruined, or otherwise fit for the garbage. There is no love in donating garbage.

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