Why would someone steal a Connect Four set from a charity group?

The title is the question running through my mind on the morning and throughout the day today that I originally started writing this (Monday 2017 May 15). I set it aside for a few days because I was on the fence about whether or not this needed to go up as a blog post. Yes, it’s been a week and a half, but I’m still pissed off enough about it that I think it should. Here is the background:

Saturday afternoon I was manning the Extra Life booth at Comicpalooza. Extra Life is one of the charity/non-profit groups I am involved with, we run an annual gaming marathon every fall (late October or early November, this year it is on November 4). It works just like a lot of other similar fundraiser events; players get others to sponsor them (suggested rate $1/hour or $24) and the money goes to the local Children’s Miracle Network hospital (in our case, Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH)). The event is one of the things we do to get the word out about our group and event as there are still a few out there who have not heard about us (and a few others who are getting us mixed up with at least one other similar event that has popped up since).

Anyway, one of the draws to our booth, at least through the time I closed up Saturday, was a Connect Four game set bought for our group (out of TCH funds, I would later learn). I secure everything as best I can before leaving Saturday evening at around 6:45 pm (I had been there since about 12:45 pm and spent the last 2½ hours or so staffing the booth by myself, for reasons I’m not going to go into here as that aren’t really relevant here). So it was to my horror that I saw a message early this morning that the Connect Four set was completely missing. Poof. Vanished without a trace. Thus, raising the question in the title.

I can somewhat get the idea behind ripping off a for-profit company for a small amount, though it wouldn’t make the theft any more morally acceptable in my eyes or any less illegal. But we aren’t a for-profit game company like the ones that were across the row from us; we are a fundraising effort for a non-profit group. This is just like taking the retail value of the game set out of the jar we have for cash donations, and it’s just as morally wrong in addition to being against the law.

On top of this, the Texas Penal Code section on theft has a specific provision in it enhancing the charge for those stealing from a non-profit organization to the next higher class of offense. And rightfully so: stealing from a non-profit is a particularly despicable act in just about any decent society, more so than a typical “garden variety” theft.

If anyone out there happens to know anything about the theft or the whereabouts of our game set, I would appreciate the information and I will make sure it gets to the appropriate people.

Permit first, food later

The Hartford Courant reports on a conflict between the local government and a charitable organization known as Food Not Bombs. For those not familiar with the organization, Food Not Bombs was founded in 1989 by anti-nuclear activists, and aims to serve fresh vegetarian meals to anyone, in public spaces, without restriction.

The squabble centers around a permit requirement from the city of Middletown (among others) stating that the kitchens used by the group need to be properly licensed for compliance with the cities’ health codes.

I understand the concerns of the cities in question. It is a great show of goodwill by Middletown’s chief public health sanitarian Salvatore Nesci to recognize the work of the group as “admirable.”

I believe in the overall goodwill of humanity, and that some kind of arrangement can be worked out to solve this conflict.

The disturbing part, however, is according to this article on wesleying.org, it’s not just the small towns in New England; the war on Food Not Bombs and organizations like it is actually a national trend.

Is this what we have really come to as a society? That simple, grassroots efforts of charity are shut down because of government red tape?

I’d like to think we, the human race, are better than that as a whole.

Fundraisers, charity, me, and my future as a blogger

I can’t really comment in detail on the events surrounding the removal of the recent charity fundraiser post. It is tied too closely to other events that I cannot yet post about in this blog and that I am in fact trying to distance from my blogs as much as I can.

However, I do feel like I owe my loyal readers a short explanation about a few things.

I really, honestly, had no idea I would actually be “escorted off premises” if I showed up. Had I known that I would not have made the post and scheduled my attendance at the event.

I still feel like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is a worthy cause. I do feel like I owe the friend of mine who is a leukemia survivor my participation in at least one fundraiser for the organization at some future date. I don’t know when that future date will be, probably not until 2009 December, maybe as late as 2010 June. Yes, I know, a whole year away.

I can say, however, that the events surrounding my exclusion from this fundraiser have kind of turned me off from doing charity events for a while. In fact it’s made me rethink a lot of things. I almost said “to hell with blogging.” That’s how bad it has gotten.

At the end of the day I really have no idea who’s out there or what they think, outside of the few comments I get. Most of them run afoul of some part of the comment policy, with the single biggest offender being no e-mail address. I’m sure there are some shallow minded people out there who will hate a blogger just for his or her politics. I can see that people are still out there reading.

I know I, personally, am better than that. Most of my outright hate goes toward actions which have stepped beyond the lines of decency and common sense.

I may completely change the topic areas of what I blog about over the next month or two. I never really knew what to put here, to be honest; it was kind of random and then I just kind of got “in the groove” with idiocy of large corporations, bizarre news, and politics. I have no idea who may or may not have grown tired of reading those, and who actually misses their daily dose of them.

Only one repeat spammer out there is banned from commenting on my blogs. I really don’t like doing that and only use that as a solution to problems unresolvable any other way. By all means, if you can say it in a comment, do so. If not, I have a contact form.

How to confuse a toddler: a sham birthday party

Every once in a while I hit a news story that completely sticks out from the norm, where the “huh?” factor just hits the roof. This is one of these stories.

An article posted on Springfield News-Leader’s Web site (and assumed to be in the print version as well) details what I consider a misguided attempt at parenting. The parents turn a 2-year-old’s birthday party in an attempt to teach her a life lesson. Yes, at the age of 2, when most kids don’t even know how to read yet, much less understand the concept of charitable giving.

In place of gifts the parents asked the party’s guests to bring donations to a local animal adoption facility.

Key quotes from the article:

“During the past year I saw how many toys she had that she didn’t play with and wanted her to learn a lesson she could continue as she grew up … that it’s always nice to get something but it gives you a good warm feeling inside to be able to give something.”

“I don’t want her to grow up be selfish. I want her to show kindness and friendship for her community in any way she can … That’s important in our society now,” said Karen Campbell. “I hope this will be a good starting point for her since she loves animals.”

There are multiple issues I need to address here. The article’s headline, “2-year-old gives up birthday presents to help adoption site,” implies that this toddler made the decision of her own free will. This is so obviously not the case here. The parents (particularly the mother) almost certainly made this decision on her behalf. In fact, it would not surprise me if Rylee (the 2-year old) said she wanted just a regular birthday party and was overruled by her parents. So, shame on you, Springfield News-Leader, for this little act of deception. You got away with it for two weeks… and then I came along.

The next issue I have is that I suspect the outcome of this experience will not have the positive effect that Rylee’s parents think it will. All it may wind up doing is fostering Rylee’s resentment against her parents– and by the time she’s 18, greed will be the least of her problems.

On what basis, you may ask, am I qualified to make such a judgment? My own personal experiences. I don’t have a psychology degree, or for that matter even as much as a few months working at a day care center. I do know, however, what my reaction would have been to what Rylee’s parents foisted upon her, when I was Rylee’s current age. I know I would have said “I want a normal birthday party like the other kids, and if I can’t, then I don’t want a party at all.” Really, I was teased enough for being different as it was. (I was able to convince the family members responsible for me that private school wasn’t in my best interests, finally, after fifth grade. I don’t regret being allowed to switch to public school in sixth grade and beyond one bit.)