Monday, June 2, 2008

boundaries and being a good person

I have been apart of a variety of non profit organizations through both work, practicum and the fact that my father runs one. Donations, are a huge part of these organizations. Not just donations of money, but donations of well, stuff. And so, these organizations are always seeking (or at least accepting) stuff. Seems simple right? Places need stuff, people bring it. Things get slightly more confusing when you work there apparently.

In every other place I've worked/volunteered/been a part of, the staff bring in donations. There is no pressure to do so, no expectation (or at least none I've felt), it just happens. They have stuff, the place needs it, wow, look at that. Why would you give your clothes to Value Village when the place you work gives out clothes too. Why throw up all the extra food after a party when you know that people you work with are going hungry? It just makes sense. And it is very possible to do this with good boundaries. And besides, what are good boundaries anyway, what's right for one person might not be for another. And for that matter, what is the significance of material possessions in determining boundaries, but alas, things for another post. The point is, they bring in stuff.

So three times now, I've brought stuff to my new job, and three times now I've gotten weird looks. The first time was socks. There was this amazing amazing deal on socks at Walmart and so I bought a pack and took half to work and half to street ministry. No big deal. It cost me as much as two lattes at Starbucks. Everyone thought I was strange. Then, I noticed that we were short on men's clothes so I asked some guys I know if they had some used clothes. They did, and so I dragged in two garbage bags of men's clothes. More weird looks. Finally, there was the food thing. My church had a youth event and we had left over food. Naturally, they gave it to me to take to work. I'm used to the weird looks by now, but seriously, is it that weird? What were we going to do with 2 dozen hotdogs and assorted juice and breakfast foods?

My question is, does no one else at work ever bring in stuff? How weird is that? Is there some sort of policy about it? Is it just tradition? Are we that attached to our stuff? Well, I can say one thing for sure, I'm not stopping. When I have clothes, I'm taking them to work. Well, probably half to street ministry, half to work. It just makes sense. When my church gives me extra food, I'm bringing it. And when there's an amazing deal on socks, guess what, I'm adding them to the sock drawer (ditto if it's a deal on men's underwear).

I am SO blessed. I have SO many things. I have so many pairs of socks and underwear I could probably go three weeks without doing laundry if I could find them all at once (it'll never happen). I have enough money that I go to Starbucks probably 3 times a week (ouch, that sounds bad now I write it) and Tim Hortons 2-3 times. Sometimes both on the same day, especially if I'm working nights. I have an awesome apartment, a great bike, a savings account, a computer, a bed, and all sorts of books I've never read. Am I blessed? I think so. It's certainly not breaking my boundaries to help out the people at work by giving more then just my paid presence. Cause honestly, words only go so far. Talking to someone is great, but giving them a brand new pair of socks might just make their day.


Lee said...

I ran into a similar situation when i was helping out at jumpstart (a preschool) this last semester. They don't have any play ground equipment for the kids. They have a few kickballs that they fight over.
I was cleaning out the garage and found a ton of old soccer balls and kickballs from when my brother and I were younger. I was thinking about bringing them there since they very obviously could use more.
But I wasn't really sure what the protocol for doing that was. And there's a awkward class divide between the people who work there and the people who volenter. I was worried it might that more awkward.
So I ended up giving them to goodwill instead.
Which sucks because it's nice to know when your giving stuff away that it's going to really help rather than just going off into a void.

Still Dreaming said...

I know, it's weird. bah. stupid social awkwardness.

ps I thought it was totally cool that you were helping out at that preschool.