Clark Hollow Ramblings: What a shame

I hadn’t intended to write anything more about the survey and the Foothills agenda, but it seems to be the topic du jour, so I will tell you what is sticking in my craw about the whole thing.

We are told the group is a certified 501(c)(3) charity group. I understand there have been questions about that or whether the correct papers were filed or filed in a timely fashion. I don’t care much about that; there are others more qualified to ask those questions. But there is something that bothers me.

The folks who think Rappahannock needs to be remade in their vision have been pretty open about how much money they have been able to pull together. I hear numbers like $100,000, with $13,700 coming from last spring’s Give Local Piedmont fundraising day.

There are people who have worked hard all their lives and paid their bills and who try to give a modicum of what they have left to charitable causes. Then we have people who know how to get money without working for it. You get your lawyer to put together some papers and your little organization becomes a bona fide charity. It is all perfectly legal, you understand, and now you can stand around with your hat in your hand and partake of the funds that people give for real charitable purposes.

These people claim to want to help Rappahannock County. And maybe some of us poor, backward country folk need the benefit of their survey to tell us what needs to be fixed about Rappahannock. But couldn’t they have a bake sale or a fundraiser to get the money to do the survey? Do they have to take charity?

And, of course, we really need this survey. My guess is it would take the average Rappahannock citizen, who didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, about five minutes to come up with a dozen things that would make an improvement in Rappahannock County. And they wouldn’t have to use a survey to do it.

Winter is coming on, and it is predicted to be colder and wetter than average. What would $100,000 do for a fuel assistance program for our friends and neighbors who are struggling to pay their oil and electric bills?

Imagine what it would be like if the good hardworking volunteers at the Food Pantry had only half of that $100,000. Do you know how many more food boxes could be put together at Thanksgiving? I see a Thanksgiving with a turkey and all the trimmings and pecan pie for every family in Rappahannock County that needs a hand with the basic necessities of life.

Can you imagine what the Shop with a Deputy program would be like with an infusion of $50,000? How many more citizens of this county would have a smile on their face this Christmas?

Do these people even know what an angel tree is? Let me enlighten you. Our good civil servants in the social services area put together the names of children and adults in the county who are not likely to have a very good Christmas, because they just can’t afford it. Their names are placed on small, artificial Christmas trees, and these trees are placed in local businesses. Good, compassionate Rappahannock citizens take the names from the trees and purchase a gift that our friends in social services will see gets to that individual.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was enough money that we didn’t have to have one Rappahannock child’s name on an angel tree? What a blessing that would be.

Dear reader, I am afraid that what we are witnessing with this group is just the way of the modern world. People have learned to game the system, and there isn’t a system that can’t be gamed, if you have the initial resources and the intent to get something for nothing. I can’t do anything about that, nor, I doubt, can you. As for me, I intend to be much more circumspect with the funds that I have to give for charitable causes. I hope this doesn’t cause people cut back on their charitable giving. That would be a shame.

I also hope something good comes from this survey, but at this point it looks like a terrible waste of money that could have had a much greater impact if it had been placed in the right hands. Most hardworking people who have lived a few years and struggled to get ahead, abhor waste. I have heard the survey called high-handed, pretentious and insulting. It may be none of those things. It may be all of those things. I think it is a shameful waste of charitable funds. But, that’s just me.

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