Theft? Or Charity?

I believe in making charitable contributions with or without personal benefit. I make sure that we do so more than once a year.

Tonight we dropped of some stuff at Goodwill.  We got there a little late. The donation truck was closed, but we noticed that others had left their donations outside, and we decided to do the same. Their was a truck in front of us  that had just dropped off some items and some bags of clothing. Behind us was a woman, her daughter, and baby pulled up in a small white car. As my spouse began to unload the heavy items, she asked him if he was giving away the table that he was unloading. Of course he said yes, and he offerred it to her. It was a marble base, glass top  so he had to carry it to her car in pieces. While he did this, she went over to the Good will truck, and began picking up some of the donated items and placing them in her car. I sat in the truck and watched as her young daughter sifted through the items and found a backpack on rollers. It was a bright red, blue, yellow...a combination of primary colors. It was dusk so I could not make out any designs. The little girl wheeled around the bag on its rollers as if to test it out. She then looked towards her mother.She hesitated and left it where it was, walked up to her mother, then came back and rolled the bright backpack away to her car. It was a bitter sweet moment. I knew they were taking. But I also knew they must have been needing. 

Moments later, as we were about to leave, the Goodwill employee came out to find out what had just transpired. She said that we should have let them know that we were giving away our own items, so that they would not take down our license plate and acuse us of stealing items. I wondered, had people complained that others were freely taking what had been left outside the donation truck? We felt pleased to know that someone actually wanted what we did not, and that it would be used in some form or another. But because this employee walked up to us, as if to acuse us of stealing, I wondered, how many other people would seriously be offended if someone came up and took what had just been dropped off for charitable reasons on a doorstep, outdoors, after hours at Good will? More specifically, EP members, I wonder how you would you have felt to know that someone had driven up, and taken what you had left on the doorstep of the donation truck, knowing it would not be found by Goodwill until morning? So, my question to you, is do you see these actions by the mother as theft? or acceptance of charity?

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2 Responses Feb 21, 2009

Isn't the big picture to provide for needs of people? Sometimes Goodwill has it's emphasis on other things than good will.<br />
Of course it is charity for that mother to take what she needed.

If I was already donating it to charity, someone taking it off the steps just means it went to a person in need. Which is kind of the point. Or does Goodwill sell that stuff and use the proceeds to help the needy? I'm not sure how it works, but if it's like that, I can see them being upset. As for the donating people themselves, they obviously are like me and wouldn't be upset if someone takes what they need because otherwise they wouldn't just leave it outside. Interesting situation