Arkfeld: Charity begins in the community

jarkfeld@inreach.comDecember 20, 2013 

You have probably seen those bright green clothing collection bins throughout Los Banos. You probably should be wary. All of the clothing placed in these bins is shipped out of town and does no good for our community.

People probably assume that items donated at these bins go toward helping local people in need through a non-profit organization. In this case, nothing could be further from the truth.

These clothing collection bins are sponsored by USAgain, a profit-making company that collects donated items from all over the Central Valley and then transports them to Hayward. All of these donated items are then bundled and sold to other organizations. A company employee who was picking up items from their collection bins in Los Banos freely divulged this information. He also mentioned that wording on the collection bins states that they are a for-profit organization. These facts are certainly not what one would expect.

It seems to me that charity begins at home. It would be much better for our community if residents would donate clothing and other unneeded household goods to local non-profit organizations who are doing good work for local people in need.

One of the best non-profit organizations in Los Banos is The Salvation Army on Fourth Street. They receive donated items and monetary contributions that are used to help people in Los Banos and the surrounding area. They distribute clothing and household goods to the needy. They donate food items weekly to the hungry. Occasionally they assist needy families with their PG&E utility bills. Each year they sponsor 200 children from low-income families who are then able to attend camp for kids.

At this time of year, The Salvation Army raises money with the help of volunteers who ring a bell and seek donations at kettles in front of the post office and retail stores. All of these bell-ringers are volunteering their time and energy. Some communities find it necessary to pay bell-ringers for their service. One-hundred percent of those kettle donations serve needy people in Los Banos, Dos Palos, Santa Nella and Gustine. That is local charity at its best.

Oasis and Catholic Charities are other non-profit organizations in our town that benefit local people in need. In addition to the good that these organizations do for local people, there are also many hundreds of local people who donate to these organizations and countless other people who donate their time and energy to make our community a better place to live.

During the holidays when notions of giving and charity get a great deal of emphasis, it is incumbent on all of us to do our part to help those in need. A simple act of kindness goes a long way toward making the world a better place. I encourage you to drop some money in that kettle and do some other acts of kindness. That certainly is one of the main reasons for the season.

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