Begging Door-To-Door

Last Sunday Kish and I were getting ready to take the dogs for a walk when there was a knock at the door.  We opened our front door to find a teenage girl and her mother, both unknown to us, on the doorstep.

The girl explained that they were members of a nearby church.  She said she was collecting money so she could go to a church camp this summer, which was her “dream.”  She said she would be participating in a 5K walk, held up a generic sign-in sheet, and asked if we would sponsor her.  We gave her $5.  All the time, her mother stood there, beaming.

This incident left a sour taste in my mouth.  The girl and her mother didn’t look impoverished; they appeared to be average, well-fed, middle-class Americans.  They weren’t trying to raise money for a charity or a school or group activity.  Instead, they were just going door-to-door, asking complete strangers for a hand-out so the girl could go to camp in a few months.

This used to be called “begging.”  The 5K and the sign-up sheet were just a fig leaf for a naked appeal for cash.

Perhaps I’m just not a very charitable person.  Perhaps I should focus on the fact that we and our neighbors gave hard-earned money to these strangers to help them out.  Perhaps the girl will now go through life believing that Americans are decent, generous people who lend a hand when you are in need.

However, I wonder, instead, whether we have really come to the point where parents not only allow their kids to solicit donations for personal items door-to-door, but also participate in the process?  Could this girl not get a job to pay for her dream, or hold a garage sale, or save for a few months to cover the cost of the camp?  Couldn’t the family make a few sacrifices to pay her way?

This young girl probably collected more money from our neighborhood than she would from 10 hours of work at a minimum wage job.  What kind of message is she getting?