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?