Give and you shall receive … a plastic bottle?

| 07/02/2019
Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

Could you please convey a request to charities, etc, organising sports or other events with giveaways such as t-shirts and plastic bottles to please consider giving away those little flashing lights you can attach to your t-shirt or shoes or bag? I see a LOT of people exercising on the roadside early mornings (well done!) but a lot of them are dressed head to toe in black. Not one reflector, no way of seeing them.

Instead of yet another plastic cup or cap or bottle or whatever, how about a couple of those little flashing lights, one for your t-shirt and one for your shoelaces, or for a bag, for those walking to work, or for bicyclists with no lights? Let’s make the roads a little safer.

Along the same lines, kudos to the Prospect Red Bay Community Group who won an award and recently gave away safety alarms to homes there. Very generous of you, and a fine example.

Auntie’s answer: Technically speaking, I am not really answering a question, but you have inspired me with your great idea, and I am hoping this column will provide a forum to pass it on.

I have been both a participant and an organiser of charity runs so I am able to speak from experience. Forgive my bluntness but no one actually needs the assorted – for want of a better word – crap that is often given away as an incentive to sign up for one of these events. Some people may use the t-shirts and plastic bottles, but I bet just as many add them to the pile of similar stuff they have already collected.

However, a flashing light has a true purpose; anything that can increase safety for runners on the road, now that is worth something. I realise these can be bought at any sporting goods store but I do not have an issue with them being offered as a giveaway at a charity run.

Having said that, I also believe that the whole “help a charity and get free stuff” thing has gotten way out of hand. When did donating to charity for the sake of giving turn into what we have now? One definition I found of charity is “the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need”. Nowhere does it say that the giver should get something in return.

Before anyone yells, I understand that giving away stuff does increase participation in these events, which increases the money raised and is ultimately good for the non-profit involved. I will also concede that when the event includes a raffle, the numbers tend to go up.

But I just want to make the point that I miss the good old days when a charitable donation was offered just for the sake of charity and helping the community. The reward was in the giving.

Let me offer a personal anecdote which may help explain my feelings on this topic. As a member of a non-profit, I am involved in organising an annual walk/run to raise awareness and funds. One year, I returned a call from someone interested in registering who had left a message, so I knew her name. She wanted to know if we were giving out t-shirts since nothing was mentioned in the online description of the event.

I told her that we were not offering t-shirts, that the organisation was small, but we managed to do a lot with very limited resources. I also expressed my hope that as we grew we would eventually be able to afford to give away shirts.

I ended the call hopeful that my message got across, and every day I would check the list of new registrations for her name. I looked in vain; the woman, clearly disappointed about the lack of t-shirt, did not register. I know I certainly was disappointed.

That episode also comes in stark relief to those generous people who, even though they knew they would not be able to take part in our walk/run, insisted on registering and paying, because helping was the point.

I just want everyone to remember that.

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Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A couple of years ago I was considering starting a charity to provide this type of light to the cyclists that are putting themselves in so much danger.
    I was going to call it, “Lights for Bikes.”

    Then along came the new regulations about running a non-profit and I asked myself, “Do I really need this aggravation?”

    The same applies to another friend who was about to start a charity, “Enough Stuff.” aimed at asking parents of children having birthday parties to ask for a donation to their favorite charity rather than the current 20-30 gifts.

    Again, she did not go ahead for the same reason. Too much aggravation for trying to do good.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, I’ve often thought the same thing – particularly when driving the terrifying early morning airport dropoffs. For all the money sloshing around here, there is very little concern for the welfare of those that routinely walk our roads, and occasionally get run over to earn dismissive “misadventure” epitaphs. It is only surprising that it doesn’t happen more frequently. There are countless cyclists, joggers, pedestrians and strollers going along the sides of our roads in complete darkness, often in dark clothing, nary a reflector. Bright LED clipon bike lights cost pennies and weigh less than an ounce. There are also solar-powered LED lights that will probably outlive us all. Cayman’s well-to-dos could really help roadside safety just by sponsoring some branded clipon lights. A thousand bucks could acquire hundreds of life-saving branded lights. If I was Uncle Bills, I would have done this years ago, just to get these cyclists into the store.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Nothing wrong with plastic bottles as long as they are recycled properly. I have fleece jackets that are made from recycled bottles. As for things like flashing lights? Are they recyclable? I don’t think so and they use batteries that are an environmental hazard.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you considered the resources reqd to recycle? Just because something is recyclable doesnt mean it makes sense to make it, or buy it to begin with.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How about prohibiting all things that are plastic for starters? All that crap that is given as “promotion” or “appreciation” ends up in a trash bin.
    As for the runners, they are also dressed green that blends them with environment perfectly. They are also listening to something, therefore distracted.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I get made fun of because I have two very bright flashing lights on my hat when I do my morning runs in West Bay Kind of a port and Starboard ,red and green on my hat. when folks tease me about it I simply point out the the fact they ribbing me is that they have seen me. The point is to be seen easily and run over by the early morning drivers. I exercise for my healthy not to get killed by a vehicle. I wish everyone do the same. dressing in light colors is not enough to be truly safe particularly because we do not have lots of sidewalks in the West Bay area.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It drives me crazy seeing these people very early in the morning with no safety equipment. I drive and I pay attention to the road, because I leave home very early everyday.
    It should be commom sense to people to be safe in the dark, but it is not….Maybe we could have some campaign from the Sports Department to encourage people to exercise, but be safe, and maybe get someone to sponsor these flashlights to give away in some places….