Sainsbury's Disgrace

I took my elderly mother shopping this Sunday morning in Sainsbury’s so she could pay homage to money but while there was quite horrified by what happened.

As we were browsing the aisles there was an announcement made by someone with an American accent telling us that Sainsbury’s was collecting tins of food for the poor and disadvantaged. We were then asked to buy an extra tin of something and leave it in a special box situated at the entrance.


We were expected to buy a tin of something from Sainsbury’s, at ‘FULL’ price so Sainsbury’s could donate it to the poor and the needy. We were expected to BUY something extra at Sainsbury’s so there would be bigger dividends for shareholders and bigger bonuses for executives! All Sainsbury’s was going to do, after it had pocketed the money we had spent on the extra tins of food, was deliver the tins to a charity! (But maybe, to save money, they'd just ask the charities to come and collect the donations!)

But anyway, who’s to say those tins would ever be delivered? If it was Barclays Bank doing this we would be within our rights to suspect that the tins would never be delivered to the poor and needy. But Sainsbury’s? It’s true that Sainsbury’s couldn’t really gather up the tins purchased by us and put them back on the shelves, but since when have all the staff at Sainsbury’s qualified for sainthood? What’s to say a few of them don’t gather up the tins and sell them off at a boot sale? Remember how many people who worked at charity shops have been caught selling donated goods at boot sales?

If Sainsbury’s is such a charitable organisation why don’t they say something really charitable with an announcement like: Thank you for shopping at Sainsbury’s and please feel free to spend as much as you like because every year, 10% of our profits will be donated to charity.

Now that would make sense.

I realise I sound like a cynic, but I went off charity a long time ago. Even now I still remember how Jimmy Savile always had this tendency to make me feel guilty because he did so much more for charity that I did!

But what really put me off charity was that some years ago a very wealthy lady in Sydney, who owned a beautiful flat overlooking the harbour , became ill. She was taken to hospital and after a short stay she died. This was a very wealthy lady and her will stipulated that everything she owned was to be donated to Guide Dogs for the Blind, except for her residence which was bequeathed to a young relative.

But Guide Dogs for the Blind immediately launched a legal challenge to the will claiming that at the time of her death, the woman was residing in hospital and so they, the charity, were entitled not only to everything she owned, but the beautiful flat as well!!! She was not, the lawyers claimed, residing in the flat at the time of her death so it could not qualify as her residence. The judge found in favour of Guide Dogs for the Blind and so the charity got everything. The flat was worth a great deal of money, probably a million dollars or so, but the charity then slapped the young relative in the face by giving him ten thousand in compensation.

I promise you, from that day to this I have never put another coin in one of those plastic Guide Dog dogs that sit silently begging for money. I don’t feel in the least bit guilty because I have since learned that Guide Dogs for the Blind have enough money put away in investments to train a guide dog for every partially sighted person in the country, and yet they still ask for more!

I really can’t help but feel that in this day and age the poor and disadvantaged of the world are simply being used by the rich to make themselves even richer. Sainsbury’s are just doing what all the other rich companies are doing; using the plight of the poor as an excuse to burnish their image and thereby enrich themselves.

In the old days, when we went out doing things for charity, everybody contributed. Even retired lawyers and accountants used to donate their time, free of charge, to make sure all the money went to the needy. But not any more.

In the mid eighties I was young, idealistic and foolish and so decided one Christmas Day to do something to help the needy. I therefore went to a crisis centre in London and handed out food, soup, coffee, cigarettes and warm clothing to the needy. But when I spoke to these needy people I learned that they were all workers on motorways and other big building projects and they earned a fabulous amount of money each week. What they did was collect their pay each Friday, pay their landlord for their board and lodgings and whatever else they owed and then they’d go down the pub and betting shop and by Saturday morning they were broke. But these people earned more than seven or eight times more than I did, so what was I doing spending my Christmas Day helping them? I’ve never had an objection to helping the needy, but these were the foolish and I wasn’t exactly keen to sped Christmas Day helping them. So, needless to say, I never went back there. Why should my charitable inclinations be used to subsidise the profitability of the betting shops?

Some time ago my mother used to help regularly in a soup kitchen but after complaining for several years that she was only helping freeloaders, she left - despite a lot of pressure to stay. She didn’t like the fact that despite her efforts all the seemingly poor and needy did was complain. They wanted ham in their sandwiches instead of corned beef, butter instead of margarine and often, the stew had either too much or too little meat in it!!! The week’s cake was also often not up to the standard expected. She felt her efforts to help the needy were being abused, but even after she left those who organised the kitchen insisted on keeping it open. (The psychologically weak and needy, and there were a few of them, who initially got their meals at the soup kitchen were all frightened off by the freeloaders and were usually to scared to visit the soup kitchen.)

In The Bible, the Good Samaritan went out and found a person in need, he didn’t sit at home and wait for people who said they were in need to come and bang on his door. But then, unlike Britain’s do-gooders, he wasn’t an idiot, was he?

---October 7, 2012---

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