Be careful when giving

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 30, 2004

How do you know when you have been away too long? Last week (July 11-17) on a visit to Suffolk from my temporary home of Naples, Italy (for the sole purpose of working out Child Support payment amounts with my ex-wife and the Suffolk Judiciary) I experienced an organized group of persons &uot;requesting&uot; donations from drivers stopped at the intersection of Constance Road and Main Street.

You know where I am talking about, by the old courthouse, by McDonalds, by the &uot;Convention Center Folly.&uot;

This &uot;begging&uot; registered in my consciousness because of the wide occurrences of road side &uot;begging&uot; here in Naples.

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I mean it happens everywhere over here. I seldom saw this in Suffolk in years past except for the sort of annual Rescue Squad and Fire Department efforts. Both of which I think are very good things.

But I am getting off-track. In the last couple of years many supposed charity groups in the United States have been exposed as silent funders of terrorism. They use our system and the good will of most Americans to collect monies to fight the very society that is their benefactor.

Reading too much about this subject has heightened my fear of being used and so I am probably overly sensitive. Please forgive me if you think so. But sensitive I still am and as it has been said, &uot;even a Conspiracy Theorist can be correct sometimes.&uot;

Anyway, last week this group dressed exquisitely in virtually all white clothing, with coordinated white buckets with some type of writing on them, strolled between cars neither smiling nor having conversations.

This was nothing more than silent coercion to give without explanation.

I guess this group might have been collecting for some good cause within Suffolk but how could I know this? I saw no signs, I heard no sales pitch, they weren’t in a recognizable uniform, the writing on their buckets might have said; &uot;Kentucky Fried Chicken&uot; for all I could see.

Perhaps the group should display a sign that announces who they are, where there are from, for what they are collecting money, and any other details that might help those of us who have the desire to contribute to legitimate charities feel conformable doing so. Some of the larger cities ban the practice of &uot;begging&uot; or otherwise soliciting for contributions on public thoroughfares. Is this something we should consider or do we trust that anyone on the street is only there to help someone else? Tough decision.

Any who, I think everyone needs to be reassured that it is OK not to just open up the purse and give because someone is willing to ask you. If they ask you the question; &uot;Will you give?&uot;

ask yourself the question; &uot;What am I giving to?&uot;. The world is getting smaller. When you consider that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of the principal planners of 9/11 attacks, attended school in nearby Chowan as a Mechanical Engineering Student, we should all be cautious about giving without thought. Even in Suffolk. Have a good Summer.

David Forsythe is a former resident of Suffolk.