What many do, when giving to the poor, is think, “What have I got that I can’t use? I’ll just give that to the poor.” Thus, giving to the needy ends up looking like a rummage sale. And you know how you go to a garage sale and a lot of the stuff you think to yourself, “Why did they ever think this would sell?” Frankly, there’s a lot of stuff that shouldn’t even be given away. Go to any organization and they will tell you about the laughable stuff people have “donated” probably because they didn’t have enough room in their garbage can.
We at Anawim have been given stale bread, a mildew-y mattress, socks and clothes with huge holes in them, a backpack with the bottom blown out of it, sexy used lingerie (THAT will keep the homeless warm this winter!), and a notebook for a class on small business management (complete with hand-written notes on each page!).
Look, I’m a dumpster diver, so I know about finding gems amidst what others might call junk. But I also know just junk when I see it. And when I receive junk, then I know that it means that the giver was just getting rid of their excess, but they weren’t concerned about who would receive it. Again, we need to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes—how would we feel if we were given stale bread or clothes with holes in them? Honestly, we would feel that we were only junk to the people who gave them.
Here is my suggestion: Reuse. That’s great. Don’t waste unless you have to. Great for the environment, etc. But when you give to the poor, be generous in your giving. Give the best you have to give.
Here’s the reasoning behind it. Jesus said that if we are giving to the poor, we are actually putting money into our heavenly savings account (Luke 12:33-34). So we are only going to receive in heaven that which we give. So unless we want to live in heaven with holey socks (not “holy”), then we had best be careful about our giving to the needy on earth.