Before I begin this rant, I have to say that this is in no way directed towards those who try but fall a little short. Now that that's out the way, somebody has to say this. Might as well be me.....*steps on soapbox*

Everybody who knows me knows that I'm a VERY giving individual.  I give of my time, my income, my heart, etc.  I do a lot for others in my own personal time, sometimes even taking my daughter along to show how to be a giver as well as so that I'm not taking from OUR time.  I work hard to show people that there are others who care and who are willing to ASSIST when they can. However, I have a problem with one particular group: Those who feel like what they're given is someone else's responsibility to give!

At the time that a child is born, parents know that the child is going to need school supplies at some point. There is no harm in purchasing school supplies before you actually need them.  Check a package of paper and see if it has an expiration date.  Paper towels, pencils, hand sanitizer.... Any of these that don't dry up like markers and pens, yeah, you can buy them in advance.  My daughter is 3, and I'm ALREADY collecting school supplies for my daughter AND contributing to various drives. It's a shame to have THE SAME people asking each year where they can get free school supplies! I mean, do they anticipate 2nd grade being the year that their child drops out? I don't get it!

So, you give them the school supplies in late July/early August, and guess what happens in November/December. "Where do you give the toys you collect in your toy drive? Did you have a bike donated?"

Again, I know people fall on hard times sometimes. Even I have had to ask for help when I needed it, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I learned REALLY QUICKLY!  Right now, bathing suits are 40-50% off. I've already gotten my daughter her suits for next summer. I purchased her winter coats a little large so they'd last a couple of years but not so large that she'd look like the coats are wearing her. Come March/April, I'll be getting her coats for the following winter.

This month, I started putting aside money for Christmas and making notes of the things my daughter says she wants. I'm going to create my budget, buy SOME of the things she wants.  My main concern is not giving her everything she wants but making sure she has everything she needs.  As long as there's a roof over our heads, food on our table, we have transportation, and clothing, everything else is a plus. Toys are in stores year-round. Buy a toy here and there and put them away instead of waiting until November/December to start thinking about Christmas gifts and then relying on charity.

If a person can put aside $20 a month, he or she would have $240 at the end of the year.  It doesn't sound like a lot, but do you know how many $5-$15 toys you can get out of $240?  Most small kids don't care about the toys they receive anyway. They just like ripping off the paper.  Got 2-4 kids younger than 10? Take those $200 and buy ONE swing set! Tell them you're not going to be able to get them anything for Christmas and surprise them with that one gift. They'll be the happiest people on earth!

This definitely isn't feasible for everybody, but it doesn't make sense to view events where things are given away as a source of income.  Do we collect school supplies with the intent of helping someone? Yes! Do we think we're going to end up helping the same people every year? No. Eventually, help isn't help but dependence.  "Help" requires some effort, but dependence displays the feeling of being carried and a total lack of responsibility.  Taking your check and getting your hair and nails done while everybody else supplies your children's needs is neither grown nor sexy.

So, the supply list came out and included some items you cannot afford. By all means, get some help. Then, anticipate the same thing for next year and prepare for it. Simple.  THAT is what these drives are for... paying it forward, not for parents to collect what society owes. *steps off soapbox*