Life for all of us has changed drastically since last Wednesday. Somehow in the wake of all the death, tears and devastation, sports don’t seem to matter…for now.
Yes, Auburn is still the dirtiest program in America, but even the filth from two decades of perfected cheating in Lee County pales in comparison to the mountains of rubble in city, after city, after Alabama city.
I’ve been fortunate enough to help on two relief efforts since last week and look forward to more this week and in the near future. But a question has haunted me every time I make my way onto a work site where supplies are stockpiled for those desperate for resources.
Where’s the free water?
Or the free flashlights? Or the free food, clothing and other supplies?
Now before you shoot me down, I’m not talking about those who bring it. Countless individuals are digging deep into their pockets to donate whatever is needed to help their fellow man make it through another day.
What I’m talking about are those who are selling it. Maybe there are some out there, but I’ve yet to find a store in our region making water available free of charge to the victims of this tragedy. But they’ll be happy to sell it to you by the caseload. And friend, they’re selling a lot of it.
Today Charlie Sheen made his way to Tuscaloosa for a surprise visit, a very big gesture by a very big name. The story leaked that he went to a local K-mart and bought a ton of flashlights, paying the $324.07 bill with his personal VISA.
My question: Why are these items for sale down there? Why isn’t K-Mart corporate donating these and other useful survivor-esque items en masse to those organizing efforts in the region, even just for right now? Why does it take a millionaire…or dozens of po’folks like me…to foot the bill?
Heck, I’ll go even further. Forget free. I’ve yet to see a store selling needed items (water, toiletries, hygiene items, baby wipes, diapers and non-perishable food items) for even a discounted price. Yet these items show up on the scene free of charge to those who need it…as they should. I just wonder why the consumers in this region aren’t being met half way.
Now look, I understand economics, and nobody really gets a free lunch. And I also know that I’m not omnipresent…I’m sure there are some store owners somewhere footing the bill so that good can be done.
But are you telling me someone can’t set up a non-profit foundation, even as a facade, where these corporations can donate what they’re requiring us to buy? Can somebody get Chet Williams on the phone?
Small, individual mom and pop places don’t have levity to make a large-scale impact. But could Wal-Mart? Could Target? Could Publix or Winn Dixie? Could Coca-Cola or Pepsi?
I am more than happy to lay down what God has blessed me with to help those who need to feel His touch right now. So if you think this is a complaint about having to sacrifice on my own, you’ve missed the point.
Simply put, there’s just a lot of profit being made from these basic necessities being shipped in by the semi-truck load to these regions…trucks that keep a’comin’ because stores can’t keep what they are hauling on the shelves.
And while some on one side of this tragedy are desperately trying to recover what’s left of their homes, it just seems like others on the opposite side of the spectrum are posturing to build bigger ones.
Am I against capitalism? Absolutely not. But every time I buy a case of water or other items to donate, I just have to wonder who I’m making richer at the expense of good hearted people trying to help.