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PJ Says: When Giving to Charity Try to Give Locally

Advice on charities and giving from someone who gets approached by them a lot.

Over the years PJ has developed a reputation for being somewhat of an easy mark, and, so, he is visited almost daily by individuals seeking contributions for their organizations.

These people are easy to spot: They are strangers carrying folders and clipboards.

Generally PJ is happy to make donations to their worthy causes, however, he does have some gripes.

  • He gets annoyed when “for profit” businesses ask for donations. Geesh. If you are for profit, then buy what you want. Don’t be asking for freebies.
  • Since he rarely recognizes the “solicitors”, he has started asking where they come from and where their organizations are located. And guess what? He’s finding they are almost never local. Patchogue, Yaphank, Selden, and such. Sounds like a poem, huh?
    Patchogue, Yaphank, Selden, and such
    We hear PJ’s a real easy touch.
    That could use a little work, but you get the idea, right?
  • Lately he’s been asking those who seek donations what the last movie was they saw at the PJ Cinemas. Most often they can‘t seem to remember. Except for the one guy who said he saw The Lion King at PJ’s back in 1994. Double Geesh.

But then there are the two big gripes.

  • The Chinese Auction and
  • Requested donations for huge conglomerate “charitable” organizations.

Let’s do the Chinese Auction first.

Whether you are aware of it or not, the term “Chinese Auction” is a derogatory term. PJ knows it is trendy for people to claim they hate political correctness. Well, he’d like to go on the record here and state that he likes political correctness. When we are being politically correct, people aren’t being hurt. Nobody is being taken away in the middle of the night. And people aren’t being lumped into negative stereotypical categories. Like Martin Luther King almost said, “be critical of people based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”

Well, in the 1800’s and the early 1900’s the Chinese were known as a source of cheap labor. The word “Chinese” used as an adjective evolved to mean a cheap or poor quality service or product.

Take the term “Chinese home run”, for example. A Chinese home run was a cheap, poorly hit home run. The term is rarely used these days. It is not politically correct. It was used to describe a foul ball that went over the backstop. Thus it was a ball that went over the fence in the wrong direction. And you old baseball fans will remember the Chinese home runs in the Polo Grounds. The right field stands jutted over the field some two hundred feet away from home plate. Oftentimes, the right fielder at the Polo Grounds would be waiting for a looping, poorly-hit fly ball to drop into his glove, when instead the ball would drop into the seats above his head. This, folks, was a Chinese home run. A poorly-hit cheap shot.

Well, anyway, PJ is often asked to donate movie tickets to Chinese Auctions. When this happens, he suggests that the organization might want to consider a different name for their event. Something not so offensive. And this is when some of the “charitable” types turn ugly. It seems they have little actual charity in their hearts.

They generally resent the assertion that they are being insensitive. But would we ever call these events Polish Auctions? Or Jewish Auctions. PJ isn’t thinking so.

And, now, the best for last.

Nothing upsets PJ more that the large national charities getting rich on the backs of little people.

Google these organizations up. You know who they are. The big famous ones often with the word National or American in their names. Look for their officer’s salaries. Look what percentage of the money collected is kept in their “treasuries” never to benefit those for whom it was collected. See who sits on their boards. Often it is abundantly well-compensated CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies who see that the interests of their companies are served.

In some cases as little as ten percent of the money raised by the “bigs” goes to people in need. Earlier this week we read in Newsday of the Long Island breast cancer organization that raised 9.1 million dollars. A mere 4 percent of this money went to help people with breast cancer. Guess where the other 96 percent went.

The large national organizations get well-meaning, local people to sell their flowers and walk long miles so they can fatten their coffers. The volunteers are well-meaning and think they are helping, but instead their good nature and well-intentioned efforts are raising money much of which will never see the light of the day of those in need.

Recently, we at the have been conducting “special shows” for local families in need. Considerable amounts of money have been raised by neighbors opening their hearts and pocket books to their neighbors. This is a good thing. The events are enjoyable. The intended people are the actual recipients of our care and concern. And dollars.

So, if you want to help. If you want to donate to charity. Choose carefully.

And give locally. Give to those you know. Your neighbors. They’ll get the money. They’ll appreciate it. And you’ll feel great.

Ed. Note: While PJ doesn't endorse these non-profits, we thought it might be good to point out a few local charities here in Port Jefferson that you can give to:

This organization helps families with children with cancer. Social workers work with families to pay any home-related bills and any co-payments that insurance doesn't cover. The organization also hosts art therapy and counseling for siblings, bereavement and support groups.

The Friends of the Port Jefferson Free Library is a nonprofit volunteer organization dedicated to supporting the Port Jefferson Library and the community.

At the Mather Hospital Thrift Shop, you can find clothing and other donated items for sale. The staff is all volunteer and proceeds benefit Mather Hospital.

In 1992, three women founded Sunshine Prevention Center as a place for children to learn to deal with the increasing challenges of everyday life, including divorce, violence, drugs and peer pressure.

Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue is a non-profit organization helping to find homes for 700 to 1000 animals per year been found homeless, abandoned or are brought in by people who can no longer take care of them.

This nonprofit organization has a mission to provide compassion and care "for the poor, the marginal and the wounded among us."

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