Just trying to help

Promotional image from the website of a church aid agency.

Our family had a brutal track record when it came to delivering Christmas hampers in the small town where I grew up. These awkward experiences illustrate the complexities of helping and are part of a recent article I wrote on that topic for Canadian Mennonite magazine.

One Christmas, we unexpectedly encountered a classmate of mine, leaving me feeling ashamed for so vividly exposing the social status chasm between us. Another year, the father of the family we visited didn’t even emerge from the back room to greet us, and the teenage daughter refused to acknowledge the gift we brought her. The mother was left to manage the embarrassment.

I don’t actually remember that visit, but my dad mentions it on occasion. For him, the star of the story was the young woman: her refusal of our gift was not so much rude as respectable. She was clinging to dignity. He says he would like to meet her now. I think he imagines she has done well for herself, that she carries herself well and possesses a lively wit.

My article draws on a candid and biting piece written for Geez Issue 15 (page19) by Stephanie Tombari, who worked in the communications department of a major Christian aid agency at the time.

See my full article here.

– Will Braun, a former editor with Geez (wbraun [at] inbox [dot] com)

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