Lastega ja lastele

Auhinnaga „Lastega ja lastele“ täname ja tunnustame inimesi ja organisatsioone, kelle uued algatused või pikemaajaline tegevus on positiivselt mõjutanud laste ja perede käekäiku.
Tunnustusauhinna taotluste voor on avatud 15. aprillini.

Esita taotlus

Giving broken horses’ teeth as a gift

I was doing some autumn cleaning around the house yesterday. As I held and smoothed my youngest daughter’s incredibly sweet pants she has now outgrown, I was pensively looking at the stuff that had accumulated in the corner of the room.

From behind a pink toy stroller, a milk jug with red polka dots and a coffee set with a pine cone pattern were peeking out, as if waiting for me to give them a new lease on life. My thoughts shifted to my friends and acquaintances who often contact me in the hope of finding a happy new owner for things they themselves no longer need, “I couldn’t bear to chuck it in the bin. You, on the other hand, deal with children’s homes; no doubt they’re wanting for everything...”

To this question from my neighbours, colleagues and just plain good folk to answer that, Yes, of course, they need this and that from time to time, specifying, in a slightly lower voice, “Just make sure to bring things that are clean and in good repair.” No matter whether it is the large-scale spring cleaning or the solemn Christmas atmosphere in which people are making room for the new presents brought by Santa, often I will be sitting on top of boxes and sacks that, alas, require triaging before being passed on. Experience indicates that “looking a gift horse in the mouth” is necessary, as more often than not donations will include old junk passed on indiscriminately – threadbare clothing, shoes down at the heel or broken toys.

I believe that getting rid of old rubbish shows genuine disrespect for those in need. Unfortunately, I have a fair number of examples to cite from my work, in which eager helpers have sent children staying in care and foster homes things which properly belong in the bin. Last January, a lady of the house wrote that they had skis in their attic, not used by anyone for decades, and that she’d like to give them away to a children’s home... I recall a man who brought children’s homes several rubbish bags full of clothing and, handing them over, added this comment, “This way they will see that we did make the gesture!” I did not have the chance anymore to ask what the point of that gesture was specifically since, inspecting the content of the bags, I had happened on warm-up suits with holes in them, stockings worn thin, windbreakers with faulty zippers, sweaters needing elbow patches, a faded picture and T-shirts with sagging neck holes... Indeed, the bag did contain some brand-new boys’ trousers that might have delighted their wearers in the late 1990s yet in this day and age would have been appropriate only at a period party. I also recall a phone call during which a mother told me how she and her child had been cleaning a room and asked if she could bring toys for a children’s home. I graciously received them but found out, before I handed them over, that I had been given a bagful of Lego bricks and pieces with broken corners and missing sides.

Last spring I read in the paper that the Rimi supermarket in Kuressaare collected over a three-week recycling campaign seven collection bins full of used clothing for families with many children and that the manager of the supermarket was happy that the collection had exceeded every expectation. “People were active, came and brought stuff in big sacks. They must have given their cupboards a through spring cleaning.” Alas, the big families were not interested in the stuff collected, as it became evident after sorting through the three first collection bins that there was extremely little children’s clothing in them fit to be worn.

Why is there a tendency to think that things gathering dust in the corner of a cupboard necessarily have to go around one more time, to those in the most vulnerable position in society? If foster homes and mothers with big families accepted all the shipments that regular homes are trying to get rid of, their rubbish removal bills would be so big that some other vitally important service for the family would have to be dispensed with. I have heard the earthy saying, “I get rid of my shit, someone else gets something good”; however, why should others take joy in our refuse or how does it improve the quality of life for those in need? Being considerate and helping should not consist in giving away what you yourself consider old and useless. Recycling should be guided by the idea that things are sent around one more time if they could be given to your good friend or colleague recommended for your boss. If, as you do your autumn cleaning, you have the choice of giving a thing past its prime to charity or to the rubbish tip, you should opt for the latter.

My daughter’s incredibly sweet pants will make their way to a family where a girl one year her junior is growing up. The coffee set with a pine cone pattern and the pink toy stroller will take me some time to give new leases of life to; however, the milk jug with red polka dots I would be more than happy to recommend both to a good colleague of mine and to the Prime Minister, if only I knew that they drink their morning coffee from a prized set with large polka dots.

Triin Lumi
Mother of 3 daughters
Director of the SEB Heategevusfond

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