Not helping because of few is no answer

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 12, 2005

Sometimes trying to do a good thing isn’t quite as simple as it sounds.

Recently, the county’s welfare department spread some holiday cheer by distributing Wal-Mart gift cards for families who qualified.

On the surface, it was a great holiday gesture. Our county has more than its fair share of impoverished citizens.

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By providing a small “leg up” around the holidays, the gift cards could have certainly made Christmas a little more special for some of those who received the gifts.

As in any gesture of giving, however, some people may have abused the gift. The cards distributed did not have any special stipulations or restrictions.

We’ve heard whispered allegations — reports that cannot be proven, but seem possible — that some of the card recipients have used the cards to purchase seemingly non-essential items such as cigarettes and beer.

If that’s the case, those people will have to answer to that one day.

Similar allegations emerged in the days and weeks following Hurricane Katrina’s destruction of the Gulf Coast. A number of recipients of Red Cross gifts were also accused of abusing the system.

If true, the individuals who may have abused the gifts should be ashamed. But, we suspect the great majority of those who received the gift cards have used them as intended — to make Christmas a little happier for their children.

And if even one child’s Christmas is brighter because of the cards, then it was all worth it.

We, as a society, cannot allow the possible abuse of a few to turn us from being charitable.

Giving to charities and those less fortunate is the right thing to do, period.

Not doing so out of fear that a few pennies may be abused, would be just as wrong as the rare few individuals who may be abusing the charity.