Thursday, December 3, 2009

Toy Drive Organizers Did What?! Are You Kidding Me!

I don't have to tell anyone that this year has been a tough year for everyone. The news on a daily basis goes on and on about unemployment rates, foreclosures, recession, depression, etc. What very few of these reports do is touch on how the current economic disaster has affected the lives of the children of those families.

Beginning in October of this year the Bank began to get approached by community groups asking for donations to cover the toy drives they were running for which they expected a record number of kids. Given our mission of assisting the local Latino community we serve, we signed up for several local toy drives. In one case we hosted an after-hours toy drive fundraiser that saw over 300 people come through with toy and financial donations. With others we made financial donations to ensure that kids in our communities of East Los Angeles and Santa Ana received at least a little cheer during a year that saw their family's finances decimated, their home lost or worse. All in we've supported around six toy drives that run in various segments of our community.

So I wake up this morning and see the following headline in my morning news update: "Some Toy Drives Check Immigration Status." To say I was sickened is an understatement.

Obviously I understand that there are two very distinct camps in this country regarding immigration and immigration status. This post is not about who is right or who is wrong. This post is about being humane.

What I am about to say is a generalization so please treat it as such. Toy drives are originated by people with warmth in their hearts and the desire to do what is humanely right. Toy drives are USUALLY not started by people with agendas. Sometimes, however, people with agendas do start toy drives or the warm people who started a toy drive are replaced over time by people who have been given the responsibility to keep a toy drive going. These people treat the toy drive as a task. They do it not for a particular mission but because they have to. To those people I say, please examine why you are doing what you are doing and consider if what you are doing is consistent with the Christmas (or holiday) Spirit.

As I noted above, there exists a major battle over immigration. But I remind everyone that even battles and wars have rules. Even in the heat of major wars we have rules such as the Geneva Convention which protect those providing aid to those in trouble. Our children, regardless of their origin or their parents origin, are victims of an economic war. To inflict pain and suffering upon them by not letting them participate in a toy drive is an inhumane act and should be a violation of some kind of law of political war.

Again, I'm not telling anyone who is right or wrong in this battle over immigration. What I am telling those who are in charge of toy drives this year is to invoke your own form of Geneva Convention and protect the children that are the victims in a war they played no part in.

So screen you families and make sure they are truly needy. But please, do not base your decision on immigration status. These kids have no choice. They are non-combatant prisoners of war, or more appropriately, innocent bystanders. Please treat them as such and let them feel the love and kindness that your toy drives are intended to deliver.

1 comment:

  1. Well said Jesse, that's so heartbreaking to read!