Do you give name brands to charity drives? Is the economy a factor?

Our schools are all doing canned food drives this week and as I ran to the grocery store to buy some supplies I started pondering: Do most people buy the brands they would normally buy for their families or do they go for the cheaper, store brands to donate? Is their choice different in this economy versus five years ago?

With canned food drives my husband is inclined to go into the cabinet and hand out whatever the kids are not eating.  My mom told me to buy peanut butter since it was going up in price.

I did end up buy a name-brand soup because I do think there is a taste difference there but I bought the store brand for canned peaches and pears. (I didn’t think the quality would be any different.) I bought Kix cereal because it was on sale.

This is an issue I have dealt with for many years in my own head.I never want people getting the charity to feel like they are any less so I always buy what I would buy for my family. However, in this economy I have less to spend overall.

I had similar quandaries when we moved to New York City when I was 23 years old. We were staying at a hotel for a month before we could move into our apartment, and every day I walked by this homeless man who didn’t have any shoes. He had a coat and pants but used plastic bags for shoes. I felt so terrible for him, and I wanted to buy him shoes. One day I asked him if he would tell me his shoe size and I would go buy him some shoes. He told me and as I walked off to buy him some shoes I panicked. Should I buy him a no-name brand of tennis shoes or buy him Nike like I would buy for Michael? (I was unemployed at the time as we had just moved for Michael’s job. His company was paying for the hotel.) I went to the shoe store up the street and bought him some Air Jordans because I didn’t want him to think I thought he deserved any less than my husband.

When I finally told Michael the story (I didn’t tell him for a while because I didn’t want him to get mad at me for spending the money.), his feeling was that I was going to get the man stabbed in the homeless shelter when someone tried to steal his new Air Jordans.

I think about this issue with toy drives at church too. I generally buy the name brands on toys because I do think kids are pretty aware and sensitive to wanting real Barbies.

But does it make more sense to buy the off brand if you could buy two instead of 1 and actually provide more?

Where do you stand on name brands versus store brands for charity drives? Do you have different standards for cans versus toys? Do you think about it or you do just pick up the brands you normally go to? Do you give what the kids aren’t eating in your own cabinet? Do you think a person receiving the charity would notice if it was a brand name or not? Has the bad economy affected not just amount of charity you can provide but what you choose to purchase?

68 comments Add your comment

Leigh

November 18th, 2011
6:08 am

I usually give Publix brand food items because that is what we mostly buy for ourselves. As for toys, shoes, etc, (for donating to others) I will buy what is cheapest. If I can find a great deal on a name brand item, I will get that. Otherwise, they get the no-name brand. I do look at quality. If it looks crappy and like it won’t hold up, I will keep shopping until I find something worthwhile.

BTW, we’ve had a can of haggus in our pantry for over a year (gift from a friend) and I won’t give that away. I just can’t do that to someone! LOL!

Carla

November 18th, 2011
6:40 am

When I donate to the food drive at school I usually just buy a couple extra of what we already use or buy to donate. If the best bargin is store brand (kroger brand often cheaper than name brand with coupon)then that is what we get. Toys are different. I agree about the name brand toys. I remember being little and getting the dollar store doll from people for christmas and being bummed out.

Carla

November 18th, 2011
6:45 am

Oh, and yes poor people do notice the non name brands in their food box. And even though you know you should just be grateful you got food…Seeing the store brands does feel a little like the person buying it didn’t think you were worth the name brand. But hey, lots of people eat store brand. We do!

mom2alex&max

November 18th, 2011
6:47 am

I buy Publix brand all the time for myself, so I do the same when donating.

catlady

November 18th, 2011
6:48 am

For canned food drives I give something I bought, usually because I shopped when hungry, that I thought would be good but haven’t used. It may be store brand or not.

I don’t participate in toy drives–have seen some abuse of the program. Toys are important but not essential, so I do my donating in other areas.

catlady

November 18th, 2011
6:50 am

BTW, last year we had kids stealing food from the canned food drive. I thought that was exceptionally sad. We have food stamps, free breakfast/lunch, a couple of places that provide cooked food 5x week, and “snack pack” snack foods sent home every weekend. What can people be thinking, not to feed their children enough that they steal canned goods?! Where are their priorities (yes I know rent and utilities, but come on!)

Me

November 18th, 2011
6:52 am

We donate the exact same brands as those we buy for ourselves. This has always been a mixture of both store and brand names. For food drives that specify canned goods, however, I normally go to Costco and pick up cases of assorted vegetables such as green beans, etc. This is, of course, the “Kirkland” brand but, again, this is a brand that we routinely use at home.

Me

November 18th, 2011
6:54 am

@TWG – I would have performed the exact same actions with regard to the shoes. Not saying I would have gone with Air Jordans, per se, but would have purchased something that I would wear. I wouldn’t have given thought to what might occur in the shelter due to him having the nicer shoes but would now bring that into consideration.

shaggy

November 18th, 2011
6:59 am

catlady,

I’ll bet these “people” have an iphone, big screen TV, blazing internet, and sattelite w/premium channels.

shaggy

November 18th, 2011
7:07 am

Canned foods are some of the most unhealthy, and we hardly ever buy them anyway. Some canned soups are off the charts for sodium intake, unless that can of soup is the only sodium you will eat that day.
So, am it to buy and give something that I know to contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, and stroke?
There are other non-perishables that are much better for you. Rice, beans, unsalted nuts to name a few.

Sk8ing Momma

November 18th, 2011
7:17 am

I give like I’d like to receive; hence, I give what I’d buy for my family (including generic brands). This falls in line with treating others how I’d like to be treated. :)

ABC

November 18th, 2011
7:19 am

You bought a homeless guy Air Jordans? I’m sorry but you’re husband was right. I wouldn’t buy something like that for my own family let alone a stranger. Remember when kids were getting beaten up and worse so bullies could steal their fancy shoes, jackets, etc.?

motherjanegoose

November 18th, 2011
7:43 am

@ shaggy 6:59…yes this is something that really bugs me!

Last year, I went to Publix for several weeks in a row and picked up many items they had on their BOGO free sale. I am noticing that Kroger is having BOGO free now, so that would work too. I brought a trunk full of things to the local co op. My husband drove me there as it was dark and I wanted help bringing the things inside. He said he will not do it again as he almost got hit in our new car ( Chevy). The people there were descending like flies on honey to get their food and manners were in short supply. He would give someone his last dollar ( in his pocket) and has always been this way but it irked him that we were trying to DONATE food and those who were trying to RECEIVE food were like vultures. Guess they were really hungry.

I am very thrifty and will not waste money. Here is a question I have and it applies to the food and the shoes:

If you could get 100 cans ( so to speak) of an off brand or 50 of the name brand would it not be better to share more food? I do not buy a lot of off brand stuff as I use coupons and buy what is on sale. It seems to me, if you could get 3 pairs of shoes for the price of one pair of fancy shoes…more people would have shoes.

This is the problem I have with the Angel Tree at church, for Christmas. The gifts kids want are not something I would buy for my own two,much less donate, as the price tag is too much. My daughter joked with me that she wanted an American Girl Doll for HS graduation. I never cared to spend that much money on one, so she did not have one. I sure would not buy one for charitable donation. I mentioned this on here, last year someone wanted Justin Beiber tickets to a concert. I had no idea what that was but thought it was ridiculous.

motherjanegoose

November 18th, 2011
7:44 am

comment gone…not retyping TWG!

JJ

November 18th, 2011
8:25 am

I donate what I would buy for myself.

JJ

November 18th, 2011
8:29 am

And Shaggy – I feel the same way about canned foods as you do. They are NOT allowed in my home……except for the occasional can of corned beef hash. (mmm on toast with a fried egg on top…runny yoke…..I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow morning…).

jarvis

November 18th, 2011
8:38 am

I didn’t know there were varying levels of quality when it came to canned foods.
I usually go with the off-brands on canned goods….cause they’re canned mushy overly salted nastiness in general.

Paquet du 10

November 18th, 2011
8:48 am

So you were grocery shopping……What were you wearing?

Paquet du 10

November 18th, 2011
8:50 am

On the subject of charity. I recently help raise over $20,000 for the homeless……Seeing as times are tough, I kept it for myself. Seriously, where do you send the money? These people have no address.

JOD

November 18th, 2011
8:58 am

@Leigh – CANNED haggis? Bad enough in real life, but canned it can last in perpetuity. Maybe you could gift it as a white elephant?

We give a mix, too. Some things are great in the store brand, but others not so much. Kirkland is actually doing a great job of substantially reducing the sodium and preservatives in their canned foods, and I think their ’store’ brand is typically better and more wholesome across the board than the national brands.

The Reverend Baby Doctor Bedpan

November 18th, 2011
9:03 am

I admit, when I donate canned foods, I usually donate the cans of food I know I will never eat. Last year I gave 2 cans of wadded beef, a can of corn nog and a can of cream of eel soup.

Anj

November 18th, 2011
9:07 am

Whatever I have or something relatively “safe” since our tastes aren’t always mainstream. I wouldn’t buy generic or store brand pastas because sometimes they use a lower protein flour to make those and the resulting pasta cooks up mushy.

usually lurking

November 18th, 2011
9:16 am

On the food – mostly store brands – Publix or Kirkland – because that’s what we buy for ourselves. On the toys – I do struggle with that sometimes. One charity we support suggests a budget of $30 to buy the items on the child’s wish list, and it can be hard to find name brands and still meet the budget constraints. Mostly I just look to see it the item is of good quality and don’t worry about the brand name so much.

CH

November 18th, 2011
9:18 am

It’s a shame we can’t donate fresh or frozen veg as I usually only buy canned tomatos and beans for our family. Feels wrong then to donate cans.

Becky

November 18th, 2011
9:24 am

I usually give what I buy for my family..Sometimes name brand, sometimes, store brand..

Like Leigh, on clothing, I usually try for the cheapest, but still try to get good stuff..I do a lot of thrift store shopping and you can (usually) buy new things in there, that are great for donating..

Don’t know that I would of bought the homeless guy Air Jordans, as I don’t spend that much on shoes for myself..I am just as happy with the tennis shoes from Walmart as I am with Nikes..

DB

November 18th, 2011
9:36 am

Well, if the store brands are good enough for me — why aren’t they good enough for charity? I don’t worry about it. Food is food, and if you’re hungry enough to be at a food pantry, then the color of the label shouldn’t be a problem. But I was never a “designer label” girl, anyway :-)

JATL

November 18th, 2011
9:40 am

We give what we eat, and we eat primarily store brands. There are very few items I’ve found that aren’t as good or better in Publix, Kroger or Kirkland (Costco) store brand.

HB

November 18th, 2011
9:58 am

I generally buy what I would buy for myself, including store brands, or what I know someone else likes (I hate tuna, but my mom likes Starkist so I assume it’s decent quality). I also pick up dry foods like pasta (not the store brand — as someone above said, it’s usually a big drop in quality) and instant oatmeal, and sometimes cereal or Kraft mac and cheese if I’m giving to a pantry that I know also provides milk to families. If it’s going to a group that provides unprepared food for the homeless, I pick up things that don’t have to be cooked — tuna, peanut butter, Saltenes, etc.

FCM

November 18th, 2011
9:59 am

Depends….if a brand I normally don’t buy is BOGO I may well buy it for the charity. I do buy publix brand items for chili. Also I double check the large cost on the ultra large cans to see if it is a better deal when it comes to Feed the Hungry or a soup kitchen

Money is tight and those folks need to eat too. But overall the economy is getting me over to store brands for the house as well.

Valstake

November 18th, 2011
9:59 am

When I was in Atlanta, I often shopped at Aldi so that’s what was contributed to food drives. Some of their pasta and sauces are imported from Italy so I don’t think giving those products should bother the recipient of a charity drive. Aldis’ other dry packaged products are equally good, as are some of the canned products.

If people needing charity have too much pride to accept “off-brand” items, they can just turn down the food I purchase and forage for themselves. They are receiving exactly what I would purchase for myself.

jarvis

November 18th, 2011
10:11 am

@Rev, total props. You actully just made me laugh out loud in my office.

FCM

November 18th, 2011
10:11 am

Oh, on the toys…that too depends. My kids never got real American Girl Dolls. They got the Target knockoffs–6 years ago. They know it is the knock off, but they love those dolls and play with them. I was able to get them each a doll for what it would have cost me for AG. I have no qualms about it. I would not think twice about doing the same thing when dontating a toy.

I usually try to do for one of Clark’s Kids (the foster kids)–and typically a teenager since they are the ones usually not picked from the books. One man nearly cried when I “adopted” 3 and said look I can do like $20 per kid but they won’t get all they ask for or I can do all for a single kid…he said “Lady, nobody picks the teens. You get them anything and I can promise you they will be glad to have something and not care the whole list was not filled. So, please go ahead and do for 3.”

Gilligan....AKA Professor

November 18th, 2011
10:25 am

Do you all realize that most of the canned foods come from just a few plants? Kroger, Publix, or any of the other grocery chains contract out to these canning facilities. They don’t do this themselves. Chances are, the DelMonte brand is the same product, with a Kroger label on it.

Did you actually think Kroger or Publix were canning these themselves?

Theresa, besides your misspelling yesterday, your lack of real world knowledge is epic!

ATL06

November 18th, 2011
10:46 am

I thought about this when I was purchasing for my son’s football teams canned food drive. I shopped like I would shop for myself. I don’t eat canned veggies mostly fresh or frozen so I purchased the green giant brand as they were buy a 4 pack get a 4 pack free @ Publix that week. Publix store brands are awesome, I don’t purchase store brands from anywhere else. Something that my mother told me along time ago is that if you wouldn’t want for yourself why would you give it to someone else. I try to keep this in mind when I’m shopping for someone else. It doesn’t have to be name brand but I do check for quality.

JJ

November 18th, 2011
10:59 am

If there were a contest for buying the most Publix store brand items, I would win!!!!! 90% of my groceries are Publix brand. It’s basically the same thing as the national brand, for a few cents cheaper……the only exception is toilet paper. Target’s in-store brand is the best.

Figment

November 18th, 2011
11:03 am

FCM – that’s a fabulous idea about the teens! I think I will do that this year. Every kid enjoys getting something for the holidays

shaggy

November 18th, 2011
11:58 am

Gilligan….AKA Professor,

OK, genius…then, with your vast intellect, you would know that these food processing companies must achieve certain “standards” that are different from say Del Monte to Publix, right idjiot (mispelled on purpose, because you are to dumb to be an idiot). So you can wrap your huge cranium around this…a company chooses to profuce a label…a company doesn’t have the resources to actually produce it, but they have cash flow and are willing to invest in a label…a company locates the processor, contracts them to produce their label, with their standards…a company receives the finished label product, sells it, and makes a profit from it…
….shaggy buys a can to throw at knuckleheads like you, because he stays away from canned food but loves to bean morons.

Denise

November 18th, 2011
12:00 pm

I give what I eat, which is a combination of name-brand and store-brand. As for gifts, this year I had to tone it down. In my Sorority, we adopt families by team and over the last years I’ve bought everything for one child and spent a grip but this year I’ve bought ONE thing for one child. I bought what I would wear. It’s not the kids’ fault that they have to be given gifts from an organizatiion rather than their mother so I treat them like I would myself or anyone else in my family.

Really?

November 18th, 2011
12:22 pm

shaggy
November 18th, 2011
11:58 am

Gilligan….AKA Professor,

OK, genius…then, with your vast intellect, you would know that these food processing companies must achieve certain “standards” that are different from say Del Monte to Publix, right idjiot (mispelled on purpose, because you are to dumb to be an idiot). So you can wrap your huge cranium around this…a company chooses to profuce a label…a company doesn’t have the resources to actually produce it, but they have cash flow and are willing to invest in a label…a company locates the processor, contracts them to produce their label, with their standards…a company receives the finished label product, sells it, and makes a profit from it…
….shaggy buys a can to throw at knuckleheads like you, because he stays away from canned food but loves to bean morons.

________________________________________________________________________________

This is how you respond to criticism?

I was almost expecting you to want to settle this after school in the play ground. Just a tip….Behavior like that will cost you at Christmas……At the very least, no TV tonight.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 18th, 2011
12:34 pm

CH — Two thought on the canned goods versus fresh — I think the canned goods can sit and sit until needed whether at a warehouse or in the person’s house. The perishable good would have to be given out so quickly. The other thought is depending on how malnourished the person is, often they can’t handle the fresh stuff. When we were in New York, we were going on a trip. I had all kinds of fresh food in my fridge that we didn’t want to throw away or let rot while we were gone. So I packed up bags to take it the four homeless guys that were always near our apartment. I took OJ, Milk, fresh fruits and veggies and the homeless guys were like we can’t eat that. It will give us the runs. They woulnd’t take any of the fresh stuff but the bread, which I guess would stop you up. So they may not be able to tolerate the fresh stuff either. Just a thought.

iRun

November 18th, 2011
1:00 pm

The only canned goods the Run household buys are: tomato paste/sause, black beans, chick peas, and the occasional soup (usually the “cream of” varieties for cooking). We almost always buy generic because I can’t tell the diff. Except for cans of Ro-Tel. Then I get Ro-Tel.

When we do canned food drives, I go buy a lot of beans – black, red, chick peas, all kinds.

As for that poor guy with no shoes? I’d have gone and bought him a pair of heavy workboots. Something good for all seasons. No more than about $30. The point is to shod the guy, not sponsor him for sports.

@shaggy, really? We call them “people” now? Because, what? They’re really just Soylent Green?

It’s easy to dehumanize HUMANS when you don’t understand them. Good for you for engaging in that. We need more of it. Especially in this economy. Especially now that Winter’s coming on. Especially when we can give a rat’s butt about the world being a better place.

JJ

November 18th, 2011
1:00 pm

Well apparently beggars CAN be choosers…..

karma

November 18th, 2011
1:13 pm

..started pondering…. ??? is that anything like pondered? wow!

K's mom

November 18th, 2011
1:29 pm

I coupon and shop at publix, so I am no longer very brand loyal. We have mix at our house and donate what i can get on sale, because that is what we eat.

I try to always pick clothes to buy for our Sunday School adopted family. I hate toy shopping and only have boys, so I enjoy buying for a little girl once a year. I generally try to get a play/school outfit and something a little dressier along with a coat or sweater. This year I purchased the clothing at Belk because I had a fabulius coupon, they were having a sale and I have an interest feww credit card, so it made it the best value for us. That is where I buy a lot of children’s clothes so I think I did well.

Stacey

November 18th, 2011
1:32 pm

I used to use coupons on BOGO free items at Publix and get things practically free that I would put in a box in my pantry specifically to donate. It would usually be name brand but not necessarily something that my family eats. I also used to buy the boxes of food through Angel Food and nearly every month I would end up with some sort of non perishables that we don’t eat and also put those things in my donate box. Same with things that I buy and find out we don’t like. Between scouts, school and church my son seems to be involved in some sort of canned food drive every couple of months.

Regarding shoes, I agree with MJG that I think it’s better to buy 5 people $20 sneakers than to buy 1 person $100 pair. Someone who is truly needy will be grateful with whatever they can get to keep them warm and/or properly covered. Years ago I worked in a high rise office building and the building management company sponsored an annual coat drive. Every year there were a lot of really nice “gently used” coats for men and women but not hardly anything for kids. My office decided to pool our lunch money for a week and someone went to Target and purchased several new kids coats, hats and gloves to donate. One of the executives was amazed at how much she was able to buy with a little less than $500 because that’s less than he generally spends on 1 coat. I guess it’s all about your perspective.

motherjanegoose

November 18th, 2011
2:25 pm

@ Stacey….AGREE with MJG….thanks! I thought my name was mud today after the imposter posted as me this morning…when my initial post was gone. That post is no longer here.

Glad I still have a few friends.

I do not care what anyone spends their money on, when they have earned said money. When I am assisting someone in need, I am thrifty. When I am purchasing my own things…I am thrifty. Some people are amazed at the bargains I get on things. I shop at Big Lots for myself and have found great bargains there. If my donation is not suitable for you, then I am sorry if your taste runs higher than your budget. I am happy to help those in need but am not on a Cadillac budget myself. I am on a Chevy budget. Hint…if a Chevy is good for me…then I will not be donating a Cadillac for you.
That is just how it is in my life and I might be the only one.

Dr Flenderson

November 18th, 2011
3:04 pm

So I packed up bags to take it the four homeless guys that were always near our apartment. I took OJ, Milk, fresh fruits and veggies and the homeless guys were like we can’t eat that. It will give us the runs. They woulnd’t take any of the fresh stuff but the bread, which I guess would stop you up. So they may not be able to tolerate the fresh stuff either. Just a thought.

___________________________________________________________________________________

So based on that one experience of four homeless men, we can ascertain that all poor people can’t eat fresh food because ti will give them the runs?

Your empirical approach is hardly empirical.

Cassidy

November 18th, 2011
5:00 pm

“Chances are, the DelMonte brand is the same product, with a Kroger label on it.”

There is no chance – because this simply is not true. Do you think that the major brands would allow such a practice? While it is fine that you find store or generics acceptable for you to consume, please don’t believe that these items are processed at the same facilities as they are not. People will talk themselves into anything that makes them feel better!

Uh, Casssidy...

November 18th, 2011
5:10 pm

…have you ever heard of Whirlpool brand appliances – how about, Kenmore, Frigidaire, Maytag, and maybe others – they are ALL made by Whirlpool Corporation, just under different licensing agreements – in fact, the basic difference in “name” brands and “store” brands is in the marketing – you pay for all the commercials you see on TV and in print for the “names”, and pay less for the “store” brand since they do not advertise them…

Fred

November 18th, 2011
5:49 pm

In most instances, I give what I use. The exception being canned goods. I don’t use canned goods often so I can’t “give what I use.” The canned goods I use would not be appreciated by many. I use beans for my chili, and tomatoes when I can’t get decent real tomatoes, re-fried beans, (because it is such a PITA to make them), and baked beans. Anything else I use either fresh or frozen. I use Kroger beans and name brand tomatoes since Kroger’s refuses to properly peel or core their canned tomatoes. I haven’t noticed much salt in the beans, but when I use the tomatoes I don’t have to add much extra salt. LOL my wife tried to go to the pantry to fill a 20 can donation for my daughter and we didn’t HAVE 20 cans in total there. She had to go buy some.

But when i do buy canned stuff I buy the name brand. Something is ALWAYS on sale. i think it tells the person receiving the gift that not only did someone care enough to donate but cared enough about them as a person to spend a few cents more. Even though both the donor and recipient are anonymous, doesn’t mean a little love and caring can’t be exchanged.