How did my attitude to charity change after moving to the USA
Ekaterina Voloshina, who moved from Moscow to the city of Mobile in Alabama, told in a blog Snob how her attitude to charity in America has changed.
Before moving to the USA, my attitude towards charity was extremely negative. The fact that citizens are forced to collect sick children for the whole world while the state is inactive (or is extremely inefficient, since families are forced to ask for money) seemed to me absurd from the point of view of rationality of the healthcare system. The more there were community organizations to raise funds for sick children; deprived of the most necessary old people in nursing homes, who often did not have the most necessary; babies in orphanages that didn’t even have diapers, the more obvious was the apparent weakness in the organization of health care and the general corruption of the system.
However, it is common for people to have a kind heart and help their neighbor - on any continent.
But charity in the United States (in particular, in Alabama) has other forms than in Russia.
Alabama and Southerners in general are incredibly friendly and cordial in communication.
VTsIOM would demonstrate a 100% level of kindness if such measurements were taken. I heard about this before moving, but the reality turned out to be even more pleasant than expectations. For example, small talk is a pleasant part of the national culture. Any person I meet during the day - a salesperson in a store, a receptionist in a fitness club, a children's section, at a school - will warmly greet and ask how you are doing. Supermarket cashiers love to comment on purchases: ma'am, this Italian bread smells amazing, I hope you enjoy it. Or: ma'am, you just bought macaroni and cheese, I guess I guess what you have for dinner tonight.
It is impossible to imagine a situation in which two strangers would ride in an elevator and remain silent. Be sure to at least say hello, and more often they will ask, how are you, a few words about the weather, about the election of the mayor, praise the child - you see, and the elevator has just arrived.
Complete strangers praise my clothes. I go with the children in the park, in their hands - the bread, in the plans - to feed the ducks, and then some kind of mother suddenly from the shop: ma'am, oh, what a nice dress you have! At first, shuddered, then got used.
Even when I'm on a run, the neighbors wave their hands (hello, have a good run!), Oncoming runners or walking the dogs always greet each other. Breathing will not get lost if you tell your neighbor “good morning”, and Alabama etiquette is made.
I live in the US for exactly a year. During this time, the number of acts of philanthropy, help to relatives, indifference to fellow citizens met me so many times that I lost count of them. From how much the Alabama people are not indifferent to the misfortunes of others, how ardently they support the initiatives for help, it becomes warm and good. Faith in people flourishes violently and implacably.
One of the main channels of charity is the school. My children attend elementary school, where children from 5 to 10 are studying.
Fundraising for various funds. During the year there were several days when the school was engaged in a similar fundraising. I remember two of them: the Breast Cancer Foundation and the Citizens Foundation with Down Syndrome.
The collection takes place in the same way: parents are invited to make a contribution to the fund in the amount of 2 dollars. For this, the student gets the right to wear socks of the appropriate color (the Breast Cancer Foundation is pink, we all know pink ribbons), the Syndrome Foundation is blue.
And I must say that the school uniform in our school is very strict. Students wear beige trousers, shorts or skirts, and the top is a polo shirt of strictly corporate colors, swampy green or dark blue. Socks can be black or white (strictly monophonic), shoes - only sneakers or sports shoes in black or white, without color inserts, sparkles or logo.
Needless to say, with such restrictions, students are happy to at least sometimes wear pink or blue socks! Yes, and parents is easy to donate 2 dollar. When I drove the children to school in the morning, I saw a huge number of legs — white, black, olive — and all in pink socks! More 80%! I can assume that there were more donated families, but not everyone in the wardrobe had pink socks. The situation with the Down Syndrome Foundation was similar - about 80% of students and teachers in blue socks.
On the day of the fundraising for the Down Syndrome Foundation, children are told about the features of the development of people with this syndrome, about the importance of an active social life for such people. Add to this the inclusive education - and it will become clear why in the US no one shies away from people with disabilities, do not look at them as aliens, why they live an absolutely full-fledged social life.
By the way, in our school - inclusive education.
At school, children with special needs study in a separate class. They have their own program, which is logical and understandable. But they, like everyone else, wear school uniforms, participate in general school holidays. Among them are several children with cerebral palsy, they move on special supports-rollers.
When children have parties for some kind of calendar occasion (Mother's Day, for example, or Literacy Day) - this is a celebration in each class separately, not school-wide. Parents are invited, meals are served.
The most adventurous children manage to pick up sweets in their class and drive them to the neighboring ones, well, under the pretext of a friend or brother-sister. My children always do that, their classes are exactly opposite each other. At the moments of parties, they suddenly start to miss each other (oh, I so wanted to see Dean, says Mark sadly, goes to her class and grabs muffins, the neighbor always has a greener lawn). So, children who are from the “special” class, also often adventurers, raid classes.
Do you know what attitude to them? Smooth. Without the rush, ostentatious sympathy and hassle. A student came from a nearby class, that's all. Well, of course, he did not quite come, he barely dragged his legs, rests on the frame with wheels. To him do not feel and do not demonstrate sadness and pain. He is as much a member of society as the other children who move without supports. The maximum that can be done is to move some chair in his path, if it interferes, well, or somehow minimally help to sit at the table, purely technical assistance. No sweetness, sympathy, no pretense - not from children or from teachers.
Flood in louisiana. Last September, a flood occurred in Louisiana. The next day after the event, all the students were told about the flood, about the affected citizens, many of whom were left without shelter and necessary things. The director sent voice messages and e-mail alerts to parents asking for help. To help the target, and parents did not rush to guess what exactly you need to buy, lists of necessary things were transferred (gels, sanitizers, shampoos and conditioners, shower gels, hand soap, diapers, etc. - only hygiene items, nothing more) . Purchased items had to be transferred to school within three days. I bought something from the list, the entire budget was no more than 20 dollars (2 package for two children), and on the days of the collection I saw how many students carried packages with help to the school. I have no doubt that many teachers and other school staff also participated in the gathering.
Donations of clothes and shoes. At the beginning of the year in the gymnasium, which is visited by children, the collection of gymnastic clothing is announced. Many children over the summer are gaining in height and weight, the old form is small, yes, or just bought a new one for a change. The old form can be in good condition. A plastic tank is placed in the hall, a poster with an ad is placed above it: give away an unnecessary form, it will be useful to low-income citizens. When I saw the ad, the container was full (it was the second week of collection).
A similar action was in the fitness center, sneakers were taken.
Also, unwanted clothes and shoes can be delivered to reception points. Salvation army or Goodwill. This clothing is partially sold (money goes to help the poor), or directly received clothing is transferred. In exchange for an offering, you receive a form indicating the accepted items and their approximate cost. The form can be attached to the tax return and get a tax deduction.
Food Donations. It was before Christmas, when a charitable organization put a leaflet in our mailbox. It was suggested that some durable goods (canned goods, crackers in factory packages) be put into the package (even the package was put), which will be distributed to poor citizens of our community. Community, community is a very commonly used term in the United States. The word can be used in a broad sense - both fellow citizens, residents of one state, and in a narrower sense - neighborhood; townspeople living in the same area. Charity events related to the collection of things, food - this is for the local community.
A similar action to collect groceries - in the fitness center, before Thanksgiving, is a significant holiday in the United States. It was the traditional holiday products that were offered to the reception - canned peas and corn, pumpkin puree, and something else.
Charity events. One of the most vivid memories was the summer five-kilometer multi-colored race, 5K Color Run... The runner's package included equipment (T-shirt, number on the back, a bunch of tattoo stickers, glasses), as well as a bag of powder paint. The paint could be sprinkled on oneself and fellows in the race, in addition, 4 bases were installed at the distance, from which the volunteers “watered” the runners with whole fountains of paint. A lot of emotions, incredible photos, and good for health! The race was charitable, the money collected for tickets and the sale of souvenirs went to charitable foundations.
Other charity. Once, representatives of a local organization that was collecting funds for military families knocked on our house. Not just a collection, but a collection for one goal - to ensure children stay in free summer camps. Representatives - a young boy and a girl - told about the organization, answered any questions. They themselves did not accept the money, only distributed information and leaflets: the leaflets indicated the address of the site, the minimum legal information about the fund and the methods of donating to the fund account.
Volunteering Practically in any city event, be it a race, the opening of a park, an art event, volunteers are required - to meet and register guests, conduct tours, and distribute leaflets. Museums, galleries, hospitals need volunteers on an ongoing basis, you can leave an application on the website in the appropriate section. Some hospitals announce the admission of volunteer schoolchildren aged 14-18 during the summer holidays (very often there are more volunteers than the hospital is able to accept, the acceptance of applications ends ahead of time). Volunteering among young people is also popular because it can be indicated in the portfolio when entering the university, when applying for a job - this gives a candidate some advantages. Volunteers are entrusted with a simple job of their choice - helping in caring for the sick, cleaning, working in the cafeteria. They are not paid, except for free lunches during business hours. Long-term workers can receive discounts at hospital stores and cafes. Quite often, retired women who are tired of office or other work, but are too active to spend time on TV shows on the couch, become “long-term” volunteers. They devote several hours a day, sometimes a couple of days a week, to help their neighbor free of charge. This gives them a sense of belonging, neededness, and sometimes excellent socialization, because they find new friends.
Once upon a time I was sure that Americans are a hypocritical and insincere nation. Until now, among my peers, compatriots who have grown up on the propaganda of the times of the Soviet Union and Zadornov's monologues, I meet opinions like "Americans are smiling in the face, and right there they are knocking on you behind my back." Or "the shop staff is amiable with the buyer solely from the desire to cash in".
Of course, the people who found the Soviet Union as schoolchildren are now quite mature and mature, but perhaps they do not have enough examples to change their minds or even to expand their horizons.
I hope my stories will help at least a little.
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