Today I sent in my yearly contribution to the United Way. The United Way is an interesting charity because its actually a charity that collects for other charities. I have a special fondess for the United Way because I worked at one in NH ages ago.
Most of the charities are local, the United Way LA helps 35 agencies that service the very poor in our city. AS the letter states, as the sun goes down tonight, more than 90,000 homeless people (including 20,000 children) will look for a safe place to sleep.
This is just not right for a rich city in a rich country. PATH has some great solutions (Joel's book is a great read), but as they point out we need more people doing things. Its hard to know what to do. Giving money helps. I try to do other things, I give away fleece blankets and toiletry kits to the guys at the freeway exits/entrances (especially at the Veterans Administration hospital). I buy homeless people food or coffee if I see them when I get it (I probably buy about 2-5 meals/week), and yes, I give people money if they ask. I know its not good. I know they spend it on cigs and booze sometimes. But who am I to judge what they do with it, and it means so much more to them. And if I lived on the street I'd probably want to smoke and drink too.
I also paid a big tax bill to the City of Calgary today, hopefully some of that funds will go to helping hard working Canadians.