Americans always ready to lend a hand

Last spring many criticized Florida strawberry growers for plowing under their crop when it was obvious that spending more money to pick and distribute it would only add to their financial loss.

They were called stingy and greedy by their detractors and told they should harvest the crop and give it to the needy. When I suggested the critics pay for the harvesting and distribution, then join with the farmers to give it to the needy, I was chastised by these do-gooders for my gullibility.

Recently I discovered a fine example of what I was hoping they might consider — a mutual effort for the betterment of our fellow man between farmers and a community in eastern Idaho.

Local residents and volunteers are helping pack 300,000 food aid packets for victims of disaster and tragedy who are suffering, particularly children, from malnutrition and famine.

These 9-ounce packets are protein and electrolyte-enriched dried potato flakes. The Idaho Potato Commission (farmers) put up part of the money and the packs will be distributed by a national aid group.

This sort of American generosity is typical of our country.

Every so often we hear the United Nations criticize the U.S. by saying we, as a percentage of Gross National Product, donate less aid than many U.N. members. That is like saying a farmer who donates 100 pounds of potatoes to the needy, donates less than a backyard gardener who donates 10 pounds. Who contributes more?

I guess it depends on whether you view it from the critic’s side or the side of the needy. But the 500-pound gorilla in the room that is the need’s saving grace, is the generosity and private giving of the American citizen.

Following the tragic Indonesian tsunami, our government initially pledged less than Germany, Australia or Japan. However, within six months, American private contributions had equaled the pledge of all three countries combined.

In times of crisis, even during our recession, American citizens dig in and donate. In Louisiana, Haiti, North Korea, Africa, all over the world, the generosity of the American people is recognized and counted on.

We citizens who work to earn all this money that the government takes from us and then spends, sit at home watching our leaders expound in numbers of millions and billions and trillions that we are spending. The amounts boggle our mind. We worry how we will ever dig ourselves out of this black hole of debt. And yet …

I just read that our ships have arrived in flood-ravaged Pakistan with food, supplies, rescue helicopters and 1,000 Marines. We, the taxpayers have pledged $150 million in emergency assistance.

“Only $150 million? Is that all?”

And not a one of us says, “Wait a minute! We are hemorrhaging money, I’m behind on my credit card, how can we afford to do this?”

The answer is, we just do it. Because conservative or liberal, city or country, rich or poor, we know it is our responsibility.

Where does this generosity come from? In survey after survey by those who are professional fundraisers for non-political worthy causes, the single biggest factor that determines who is the most likely to give time or money is … they are regular churchgoers.

“Under God, indivisible, and there to lend a hand.”