So, in my post about disposing of your beloved collections after you die, or before, one of the points I added toward the end was “Get over yourself.”
I said this because I have heard people be complete shits when they decided the things they were giving to charity weren’t going to be used in a way of which they approved.
Ok, fine. Do your research. The majority of places will be upfront with you about policies and needs if/when you call and talk to them. Many of them have FAQs. They will tell you what they do with what they accept.
For example, Locks of Love.* First, the major complaint I hear about Locks of Love is that there is no guarantee YOUR hair will be used in a wig for a little kid with cancer, and that they sell an awful lot of the hair they receive.
This is all true. BUT if they do sell your hair, the money from that sale will fund turning hair they can use into wigs for little kids that need them for a variety of reasons, including cancer, burn scars, alopecia, and other ailments and injuries that result in hair loss.
They also throw out a lot of hair that is too short or moldy.
If you refuse to send them your hair because there is no guarantee that YOUR hair will be used for the wigs… That is what I mean by get over yourself. Your hair will still do good for those kids, just not in the perfect, idealized way you imagined.
And yes, they do charge the families, on a sliding scale depending on what they can afford. If they can’t afford anything, the wig and all maintenance is free. If they can afford a little, they are charged a little. If Dad’s a Fortune500 CEO, they can afford to pay for the damn wig.
Same with places like Goodwill. They sell what they can, and work with clothing and electronics recyclers to deal with the rest. Often times clothing from the US is shipped overseas to tertiary markets.
Libraries sell the majority of the books they receive as donations. Because they need the money. Unless it is a particularly rare or valuable volume, and even then, if they already have it or it is outside the scope of their collection, they may auction it to collectors. And that money will go to things the library needs.
It’s all part of trusting the people actually doing the work to know what they need, and how to get it.
I get it, there’s a romance to thinking a little kid will be wearing your hair. Or a needy family will find joy in being able to buy something you loved super cheap.
But the truth of the matter is that the majority of things produced on the planet right now will not last long enough, in a useable form, to become legitimate antiques. And when charities like Services for the Blind, or whatever, look at what their needs are, they are going to do the thing they need to, to actually provide the services needed by the populations they serve.
All that hair that Locks of Love gets? Without wigmakers, it’s useless. And wigmakers need to eat and pay rent, too.
And on the back end of the romantic ideal of our do-gooding is the fact that a lot of people are entitled assholes, and seem to think they know better than the folks doing the work. There’s also this idea that YOUR hair, stuff, books etc… are more special than everyone else’s.
Donate because it’s a good thing to do, not because you’ve fantasized about some future scholar finding your margin notes in a copy of Man in the High Castle, who will wonder at your insight and intelligence. Donate your hair because even if they don’t use your hair in an actual wig for a kid, the sale of your hair means they can afford to get all that hair made into wigs and distributed to kids who need them.
It may surprise you to find out that children needing wigs are not located in one, or even just a few places. They’re all over the place, and wigs have to get to them somehow, whether that is shipping or someone driving it there personally.
And above all, trust the people doing the work to know what they need to keep doing the work.
If you’re wondering if you can trust a given charity, use a site like CharityNavigator.org. They rate charities on several matrices, including transparency and accountability.
Locks of Love has an overall 90% ranking.
That’s pretty good.
So, while your donation or help may not meet the romantic criterion of your fantasies, you’ll still be doing good when you donate to worthwhile, trustworthy organizations. And since the majority of the time they don’t actually TELL you how they used your donation, you can keep believing in your romantic ideal.
So, yeah… That’s a thing.
And I use Locks of Love as an example of this, because they catch a lot of hate. I have heard people say that if they can’t guarantee their hair will be used in a wig for a kid, then they won’t donate it.
Fine, that is your prerogative.
But I am totally gonna sit here and judge the hell out of your for it.
87% of their income goes directly into the services they provide.
That’s kind of amazing.
Here’s the Snopes.com article about it.
*When I cut off my hair, I sent it to Locks of Love. Odds are good they sold it, and I am fine with that. Also, my sister grows her hair out and cuts it off when it’s long enough every few years.
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