I never thought I would have this specific problem. My grand-kids are getting older, and I am doing the same. They no longer need the crib and all its extras, the car seat of which they both grew out of, and the various accessories and toys that we had in order to make their visits more enjoyable.
Since my wife keeps everything we have as if we just bought it, we talked about giving all of this stuff away to a needy family in our community. We were actually excited about this option because we realize how difficult it is to survive financially with a family.
The first thing I did was contact our local Catholic Church. The person I talked to stated she knew of a new family that was bringing a brand-new child into this World and would love to have the stuff we offered to give.
I was told this will help them appreciably and she would set up a system at which time they could pick it all up. That afternoon my wife organized all of the baby stuff we had so it would be easy to pick up.
My wife also cleaned everything so it shone like new. It was new because my grand-kids only visited a few times a month. In fact, since they both got older they barely used the crib and car-seat at all. I have to admit it felt good to give and make a stranger’s family life easier.
A few days passed that fell into a few weeks. I called the church but never received an answer back. I was confused. I even called the primary Rectory in New Hampshire but only got an e-mail thanking us for offering to give.
After that I heard nothing from the church so I decided to call the other places of worship in town. I never received a response from either the Congregational and Baptist Churches. I started to believe the reason we were ignored was because we are not regular church participants.
I am not saying we are not religious because my wife and I were both brought up with the belief of God in our lives. Even though I graduated from a Jesuit College I agreed that religion is more personal than social. We tried to become a small part of our religious community by giving but no congregation would accept.
I was now on a quest. Like Cervantes’s Don Quixote fighting the windmills, my wife and I knew we were right in the action of giving. Our next attempt to give was with the Salvation Army. My wife called and was told they were not able to accept anything to do with a crib or car seat because they didn’t want to be liable if anything went wrong.
They then went on to explain that cribs and car seats had expiration dates. They had expiration dates? I remember a time when people used to hand down family stuff to the next generation until one day the youngest of a family grew up using antiques that were forever celebrated.
I sometimes wonder if the manufacturers of these products created this expiration myth in order to continue to sell their wares.
Our last attempt to give a young family a start in their lives and the lives of their children centered on the Maine Community Services. I got information from the hospital, that again told me they were unable to accept anything that had to do with babies or even children. I always thought they were the same thing. Our last hope ended like the others began. They couldn’t allow us to give.
So here we sit attempting to give something away to help someone. I guess we will have to place everything at the end of our driveway in the hopes someone will see the value and take it all away. We hope it will be a family instead of a person who will want to sell it to the highest bidder.
We hope we don’t see it at some garage sale with a sign: “Like New”. I never thought I would have this specific problem.
Why is it so difficult to help people? By Jim Fabiano
Jim Fabiano is a retired teacher and writer living in York, Maine
You can contact Jim at: firstname.lastname@example.org