By SAVANNAH RHEINHART, Editor-in-Chief
Now that Thanksgiving is over, the holiday spirit is coming out in full swing. Even the Scrooges are willing to donate time, money, and gifts to the less fortunate. There are many organizations that specialize helping those in need this time of year. However, not all of them are as caring as they seem.
With the snow and lights in December also come the Salvation Army bell ringers. They stand outside of businesses and ring a bell, collecting money to help those in need. While they are an openly Christian organization, they also actively discriminate against LGBTQ community members. The money that is donated to the Salvation Army is withheld from anyone considered to be LGBTQ because they believe them to be “sexually impure”. Their website claims to offer assistance to those who need it, regardless of sexual orientation, but have actively withheld donations from LGBTQ people unless they renounce their sexuality. It’s also important to mention that they support and lobby for anti-gay legislation.
Another organization that has some dirty secrets locked away is Goodwill. Most know Goodwill as a second-hand store and donation center. It also prides itself on employing people with disabilities and seniors. Their mission statement says “Goodwill works to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.” However, it has been proven that they openly discriminate against employees with disabilities. As it turns out, while employing such people, they also pay them a much lower wage than the necessary minimum set by the state. In Montana, a blind woman was working for Goodwill for only $2.75 an hour. These employees are also “tested” on how quickly they can work and if they don’t pass the test in the required time, their wages can go down. It has been revealed some employees were being paid less than .50 per hour. At the same time, the CEO of Goodwill earns almost $500,000 per year. Sadly, this is technically legal and has been exploited by multiple companies for years.
While it may not necessarily be a “holiday-focused” organization, Locks of Love is another that may leave a sour taste in your mouth. Locks of Loves is a charity that makes wigs for children who have lost their hair to do medical issues. Within the past two years, Locks of Love has been under investigation due to a lack of wig donations. While there were about 100,000 hair donations made, only 317 wigs were produced. Monetarily speaking, that leaves $6 million worth of hair donations unaccounted for each year. Locks of Love also requires multiple letters of recommendation stating why a child deserves the wig, along with a lengthy decision process.
If you want to help those in need this holiday season, or anytime, do your research first. Some non-discriminating organizations include Toys for Tots, American Red Cross, and St. Jude’s. All of these charities are known for having visible accountability for where donations end up and have an extremely low profitability, which shows that money donated really does go to the cause. I also personally recommend Gleaner’s food bank. Not only is it non-discriminating, but it also is Michigan based and continuously helps those in need year round.
Don’t let these “charitable” organizations take advantage of you and your good faith this season. Some are just looking to make money and others like the power to discriminate. If you’re unsure, check out www.charitynavigator.org. It shows finances, accountability, and ratings for any organization you can think of and lets you make an informed decision. Some of these “charities” are exploiting the needy. Don’t let them do the same to those who donate.