Two weeks ago, thousands of St. Louis households received a white bag on their door knobs asking for canned-good donations to be picked up on Saturday, November 19. If you didn’t know Thanksgiving was right around the corner, this is your yearly reminder.
Silly me, I thought the drive was about helping people and families that aren’t doing so well at this time of holiday celebration. I didn’t realize that the campaign was a referendum on politics, race, welfare, wealth distribution, economics, poverty, crime, the late President Reagan, President Obama, Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, lazy kids, lazy parents, Mayor Slay, the environment, taxes, south St. Louis, and more. All of these subjects are being bantered about at length on various media websites, following the announcement by Boy Scout leaders that this year’s canned food drive fell more than 300,000 cans short of last year’s total.
Some people shared tales of friends and relatives that use food pantries to supply food needs for party and entertainment—shameful, but hardly enough reason to ignore people in need. Some said they don’t take part because they feel Boy Scouts of America is intolerant of homosexuals that want to be involved with the organization. Some said they won’t give up a few canned goods because people cheat the welfare system; some actually narrowed it down to black people cheating the welfare system. Some said they will never participate again because the Boy Scouts missed their house in previous years and really don’t care if they do a good job. Some said they’ll help the poor through canned food drives when big companies stop getting tax breaks and “corporate welfare.”
This is some all-time petty stuff.
I would offer this piece of advice to Boy Scouts of America: While honesty is the best policy, nothing good could come from telling the world that the campaign fell short of last year’s total. Local BSA representatives should have simply thanked all of those involved and mentioned that cans come in from almost every community in the St. Louis region on this important Saturday. The announcement that there was a decrease in cans was like raw meat in a shark pool to those who live their lives through hate-filled, anonymous online comments and blog threads. How people can further either their own hate or political agendas from a canned food drive is beyond me—especially during the days leading up to Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season.
Maybe Barry McGuire said it best in his 1965 song “Eve of Destruction” with the lyric “hate your next-door-neighbor, but don't forget to say grace.”
That is indeed, food for thought.
Commentary by Alvin Reid