Salvation Army and other charities require proof of immigration status before needy kids can have toys -- UPDATED!

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116 Responses to “Salvation Army and other charities require proof of immigration status before needy kids can have toys -- UPDATED!”

  1. Nasty says:

    If u want to see the ugly side of human nature, go to one of these places when they’re giving the toys away. Barroom brawl comes to mind.

  2. efergus3 says:

    “But Jesus said, Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me”. And these people think that the weather in Houston is hot. Wait until they see where they end up.

  3. grimc says:

    Total number of toys that people using the “illegals’ kids don’t deserve toys” argument will be contributing to toy drives = 0.

  4. totorodoo says:

    But, they are American children. Is this not the American continent? North and South.

  5. 'berto says:

    Well, the Salvation Army has quite the spotty history. (follow the links)

    1) 2003: It’s anti-union (privatized seniors’ housing)

    http://www.rabble.ca/news/sunset-sally-ann

    2) 2004: It’s homophobic (tried to blackmail NYC using homeless, just as the Roman Catholic Church recently tried to do in DC)

    http://www.chicagopride.com/news/article.cfm/ArticleID/1824489

    3) 2008: It’s transphobic (turned a transgendered homeless woman away from a SA shelter; the woman died later that night)

    http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=8691

    … and now this. Well, now y’all have *lots* of reasons to boycott them.

    • Anonymous says:

      http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A719152

      Gale Rumor Untrue

      In the wake of the untimely death of perennial City Council candidate and gadfly Jennifer Gale, public sympathy with her homelessness – she died, of yet unconfirmed causes, while sleeping outside Wednesday morning, Dec. 17 – has led to misleading speculation about the circumstances of her death.

      A Burnt Orange Report blog posting by Karl-Thomas Musselman quoted an e-mail from Marti Bier (aide to City Council Member Randi Shade) describing Gale as a “trans[gender] woman living in a transphobic society” and therefore with “nowhere … to go to protect herself from the cold [last] night.”

      Bier’s sympathetic rumor had become conventional wisdom by Thursday’s council meeting, and a subsequent press release by Equality Texas was headlined in part, “Her death can be directly attributed to lack of shelters accepting of transgender homeless.”

      In fact, a somewhat embarrassed Bier says now, that’s not true. She says she had confused a story she’d heard about another transgender woman’s bad experience at a local shelter with Gale and that she has since contacted both the Salvation Army and the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. Both shelters say they do what they can to accommodate all homeless people, regardless of gender status, although they do have to adjust accommodations to particular circumstances. “I think I was trying to call attention to the problem of transwomen accessing services,” Bier said.

      Although we’re still inquiring, there is in fact currently no evidence that Gale was ever refused shelter or indeed that she had ever requested it. – Michael King

  6. cowtown says:

    This reminds me of when the House tried to force all charities to ignore illegal immigrants.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/30/politics/30immig.html

    The idea that charitable organizations would voluntarily do this is repugnant.

    People being led by the invisible hand to a better labor market are not bad, immoral, or anything of the sort, and breaking a law is not ipso facto a “sin.” Competing societal interests may mean it is also not evil to impose reasonable penalties for certain unauthorized activities*, but it most certainly IS evil to deprive children of toys because their families’ situations in their home countries were so awful that their parents would choose to subject their children to undocumented status.

    *-I personally think that a combination of a very liberal guest worker program and respect for undocumented residents’ human rights, even if they are to be deported, is the answer, but that’s for another thread.

  7. Antinous / Moderator says:

    It’s days like this that I hope that Jesus really does show up to kick some ass.

  8. hadlock says:

    “Young said she makes an exception if parents can show they have applied for legal status or that a child is enrolled in school.”

    Even if the parents are here illegally, if the child was born here, the child gets a birth certificate, ss card etc and qualifies them. Failing that, more than likely they’re in school, which also qualifies them. The only children who don’t qualify are those whose parents who havent enrolled their kids in school yet. AFAIK all administration buildings are open to accept kids for enrollment except for weekends and major holidays.

    And yeah, charities are poorly regulated to say the least. Here’s a list of charities, where the “administration costs” make up almost 70% of their operating budget:

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=topten.detail&listid=20

    You want a lucrative business? Go into the charity business.

    • SamSam says:

      Even if the parents are here illegally, if the child was born here, the child gets a birth certificate, ss card etc and qualifies them. Failing that, more than likely they’re in school, which also qualifies them.

      Plenty of schools turn away children of illegal immigrants, such the Del Rio in Texas. So no, not all children get to go to school, and so not all can qualify.

  9. Itsumishi says:

    I used to regulary head into a very funky vintage clothes shop on Smith Street in Melbourne. This was one of those shops that was definately not a charity and charged sometimes absurdly high prices for good quality second hand clothes. Definately a for profit business and not a charity.

    On more than one occasion groups of homeless people would come in asking for clothes because the Salvation Army store down the road had told them to get out. The guy that ran the shop always gave them clothes and would usually head down to the Savlo’s afterwards and end up in an abusive screaming match with the staff there. He told me they even once yelled in reponse “we’re not a charity you know”.

    I can understand something like the salvos charging fairly high prices in their op-shops if the money is put to good use, but I don’t think the Salvo’s does this much and turning away homeless people who are litterally begging for clothes is just lower than low.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Golden rule of charity:

    Never give to religious paramilitary organisations.

  11. Anonymous says:

    At least we still have the Free Store-
    http://www.free-change.org

  12. Antinous / Moderator says:

    In possible defense of the Salvation Army’s position:

    Baltimore Mayor Stole Gift Cards Intended For Poor

  13. UncommonSense says:

    Like I always say, “Don’t like a certain charity. Start your own.” OK I never say that, but still. I read alot of pointless bitching on this, but hardly anything constructive. What would an ideal solution be anyway? They are doing good, just not good enough for some people. Where does everyone here donate for toy drives? I’m assuming everyone does, of course.

  14. Be_Reasonable says:

    Surely there are many problems with the Salvation Army. almost all charities have them, but I can tell you the reasons why I personally always throw a little money into the bucket.

    A graduate of the school I work at runs a program in conjunction with our local Salvation Army. He teaches people how to cook as a means of building self-esteem and marketable skills. The joy of those people is genuine and much more than I could accomplish.

    When my mom was the unemployed single mother of three growing children, they employed her as a bell-ringer for several Christmases. She never had any problems and won several prizes for getting the most donations. What she was paid kept the heat and lights on and gave her the impetus she needed to get off welfare and go back to school.

    The Angle Tree is a great program no matter who thought of it. I benefited from it more than a couple of times and I try every year to pay back that kindness.

    Specifically related to this, I can imagine the news organizations of my town throwing all sorts of hissy fits if they found out little illegal children were getting toys and good ‘Merican boys and girls were getting the shaft. Donors would follow suit and the funds would dry up. Sadly PR and charity work go hand-in-hand, and, right, now helping illegals is not good PR.

  15. Mitch Wagner says:

    Every day I walk in the park, and I smile at the people I pass. But now, following the Salvation Army’s example, I’m going to make sure that the people I smile at show me two proofs of ID first. Because I don’t want to deprive Americans of their rightful smiles by smiling at illegal aliens.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, do you have a limited number of smiles to give out and need to ensure that the people you smile at aren’t coming back a second or third time to get more than their fair share of smiles? Seriously man, use your head.

  16. Kerov says:

    There’s a couple of homeless dudes who sleep in front of the palatial Salvation Army regional administration building in my town. Every night. In front of a building-ful of folks ostensibly funded to help them.

    Salvation Army gets zero-nada from me.

  17. Junglemonkey says:

    @UncommonSense
    Everywhere I’ve ever lived has local charities. Ours is Valley Churches United Missions, who donate food, clothing and any other donations they receive to those in need in our mountain community. We donate a lot to them because we can walk in and see what they’ve done with our donations. When I see the people lined up around the block just before Thanksgiving and Xmas, waiting for groceries because they can’t afford a holiday meal, I know where my money has gone.

    Every community has such a place, if you know where to look.

  18. DOuglas3 says:

    “What we are adamantly denying is that we discriminate against children or parents who have an illegal status,” said Juan Alanis, a Salvation Army spokesperson.
    http://www.39online.com/news/local/kiah-salvation-army-immigration-story

    Seriously, folks. I’m sure some of you remember news reports from past years about fraud against the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. It is truly sad that they need to ask for photo-ID and SSN, but this has become necessary because people were registering for this program in multiple cities in order to double-dip, and people were registering under assumed names to hide that they were not low-income.
    I’m also not impressed by the Captain Renault-ish shock at the Sally-Ann’s strictness in their sobriety rules for their rehabilitation center.

    • Gloria says:

      I read that too, later. It’s kind of odd, because my first comment expressed my shock at how people could openly support such a policy — even if now, it never really existed — and my comments have become about them.

      @73: I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of BoingBoingers donate to Child’s Play, as massive a toy drive as there ever will be. I’ve been contributing towards toys and books to my local hospital for a couple of years now.

  19. Kerov says:

    Oh, and let’s talk about the resource prioritization genius that says BUYING TOYS is the best way to spend charity dollars.

    We’re having bake sales to pay for kids’ medical care, and Salvation Army is burning through their cash buying TOYS.

    God bless their good intentions and all, but no thanks.

    • Brainspore says:

      Of course- no child should ever experience the pleasure of owning a toy as long as there is one other child in the world who doesn’t have adequate food, shelter, housing, education and medical care.

      OR: you could donate to many charities and distribute your money proportionally according to which causes you deem most important.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Does SA censor books donated or is this a rumor? As in not sell books with a “questionable/non christian” content.

  21. awal822 says:

    As a former employee of The Salvation Army and a very proud NON-Christian I think this article and most of the comments are completely ignorant.

    First of all, as the author already noted, The Salvation Army takes the SS numbers only to prevent double registration.

    Secondly, each Salvation Army is completely different – they might as well be completely different agencies. Usually ones in bigger cities (like mine) have completely separate “social services departments” that are staffed by trained social workers who are not at all religious and have nothing to do with the church. While I was there, the social services department has 4 branches dealing with different areas of need (housing, education, employment and material assistance) and none of the 50 or so staff was affiliated with the churches that were also in the area (some were Jewish, some were non Christians, some were gay, and some were very active members in their own churches.)

    Finally, even those employees of TSA who are “officers” in the Army are just like any other Christians. Are they religious, yes, but for the most part they are doing the service because of their belief in God, and they definitely don’t refuse services to people who are in need but are not Christians.

    Does the Salvation Army have its problems and unique culture, sure, just like any other organization, agency or business (even the Catholic ones). Can you lump them all in and say that they are all the same? no way.

    I can’t speak for any other city, but The Salvation Armies of both Columbus, Ohio and Dayton, Ohio are wonderful organizations ran by people who are wonderful caring people, excellent social workers, and fantastic stewards of any donation meant to help those who really need it on a year round basis.

    • Gloria says:

      If you’ve read both threads, you’d know that many people support this kind of discriminatory policy — even though the SA may not sponsor one — and many of the comments are against THOSE commentators. Although this story has now been discredited, the fact remains that it brought a lot of ugly people out of the woodwork.

      “First of all, as the author already noted, The Salvation Army takes the SS numbers only to prevent double registration.”

      If you read the whole post, you’d also note that the original story was quite different, and many of us were commenting based on THAT story.

      “Secondly, each Salvation Army is completely different – they might as well be completely different agencies.”

      That’s a problem of consistency of image and brand that is the SA’s alone, not ours. If they expect people to donate to the SA based on a very broad brush of name and reputation, then it’s equally valid for people to judge the entire organization the same way, even if it may not be wholly fair to each individual agency.

      If you think it’s OK for me to donate to a local SA based on the general SA image, then it’s OK for me to judge a local one on the same premises.

      If each branch diverges so drastically in practise from the SA as to essentially be a different agency, perhaps you should not adopt the SA name and take on all the baggage it does and can entail.

      • octopod says:

        >If you read the whole post, you’d also note that the original story was quite different, and many of us were commenting based on THAT story.

        yeah, that’s kinda the problem. you rly need to check things for yourself. it’s a bit much to assume random story posted on blog is the whole picture. tbh, it’s why I have a bit of sympathy for rupe and his gang.

        • Gloria says:

          “it’s a bit much to assume random story posted on blog is the whole picture.”

          It wasn’t a random story on a blog. It was a report by a major newspaper. It happened to be posted on a blog, but I could have read it in the paper. I’m not suggesting that I should just unquestioningly believe everything a newspaper tells me, but you’re suggesting that blogs are somehow less inherently reliable, which is not always the case.

          BTW, I agree it’s quite important for people to be mindful and alert about things they read. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to fact-check every single thing, due to limits of time and resources. To expect otherwise is to be unnecessarily overbearing.

          (If the presented “facts” fall well within one’s sense of reason, then it’s normal to believe it fairly readily. In this case, yeah, I’d believe that a charity like the SA could be discriminating based on immigration status. It’s not like I’ve never heard of anti-immigrant sentiment in America — or Canada — or of a religious organization discriminating.)

          As a result, the important thing is to be able to rectify the situation if new evidence is brought to light, and to make equal efforts to communicate it. Which has happened here.

          I’ve also mentioned several times that many of the comments weren’t even about the SA itself, but about commentators who agreed with the ghost policy. Please “check things” more carefully.

  22. Anonymous says:

    The Salvation Army has actively opposed gay rights for decades. That’s enough for me to actively oppose them whenever I can.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Immigration laws really aren’t about law and order, they’re about xenophobia, fear and hate. There is no reason for a religious organization to participate in that.

  24. Emma Riley Sutton says:

    I am a fan of the Salvation Army. Is it perfect? No. And, neither am I. I doubt if any of you are either. If you are perfect, please share your secrets.

    I have seen a lot of good that the Salvation Army has done, as well as other charities. I do know from personal experience that the Salvation Army gives. Some charities, such as The Red Cross, charges for their help. I saw this after the Oklahoma City bombing…

    The Red Cross was charging rescue workers and volunteers for water, food and other items/services. The Salvation Army was giving the same items away. I saw Henry, a bloodhound, come out of the rubble – covered in blood and dust, gasping to breathe. The Red Cross woman ran to him and his handler (in the same condition) and offered to sell them a bottles of water. The Salvation Army lady handed them water and walked away, without taking a penny.

    I know Henry. He was a dog that was left at the animal shelter where I worked. I was surprised to see him there, but pleased to see he was happy and doing what he loved and was born to do. Yes, thrilled to see him helping. Anyway..

    As I watched the Red Cross “sell” help and the Salvation Army give it away, it reminded me of the story my Granddaddy told me about his experiences in World War II – http://www.emmarileysuttonwrites.blogspot.com. Surprisingly, not much has changed – based on our experiences. It was one simple act by a stranger that happened over 50 years ago that still rings true.

    I will acknowledge that the story is just one blog post out of millions. It is one story out of millions. I don’t know all the stories. One of my many imperfections. I do know it is true. I know my Granddaddy could tell it even after Alzheimer’s had erased his other memories. This story touched his life. It changed his life. It touched my life. I hope it touches your life. That is what charity or ministry or whatever you want to call it is suppose to do.

    Will it touch you or change your life? I hope so. Will it make you side with one over the other? I don’t know or care. Share it or mock it; that is up to you. I simply wanted you to know what the Salvation Army did for my Granddaddy and for me.

    I drop my change into the kettles at Christmas. I give clothes, shoes, toys and other things to the Salvation Army. Not because I agree with every decision they make; I give because I know they try. I give because my Granddaddy loved them. He loved them because he saw what they did.

    I also give to other charities. I know they try as well. Their hearts are, usually, in the right place. I also pray I am being a good steward of my money and items and that the charity/organization will be as well. I give with a pure heart, knowing that my God is big enough to make sure my donation gets where it should.

    I try, daily, to be a nameless stranger that touches a life. I believe it keeps my daughter healthy and tires on my car. Should I ever need (more) help, I’ll have “hope and love in the bank,” as my Granddaddy called it. Selfish? Maybe. Selfish or not, I think it is a good thing to give as much as often as possible because it is the right thing to do.

    Emma Riley Sutton

  25. Gloria says:

    As long as we’re judging the deserving nature of children based on their parents’ crimes, what about children of murderers and rapists? Are they allowed to partake of charity toys? Their parents, after all, committed crimes — awful, awful crimes, worse than illegal immigration. If they were ever imprisoned, their room and board came *directly* from tax dollars, not even private voluntary donations.

    Should charities perform background checks as well?

    What about other crimes? Children of thieves? Fraudsters? Drunk drivers?

  26. Mitch Wagner says:

    The Salvation Army says it got a bum rap. Follow-up article:

    Charities say they don’t intend to discriminate
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6747215.html

    As an aside: They have some social media marketing going on; I retweeted the boing-boing piece and the Salvation Army replied on Twitter within a few minutes.

  27. Anonymous says:

    @Boba Fett Diop, 12

    Egypt and Israel were both under the Roman Empire at the time. It was moving from one part of the Empire to another.

    For a modern analogy, think of it as a citizen of Lithuania going to Poland to work.

    Now, if they’d run to Parthia, you’d have a good analogy. But that isn’t what the story says they did.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I have worked for The Salvation Army in multiple locations for almost 10 years. This is a complete falsehood. The author is portraying this very wrong! In order to verify the number of household members to prevent fraudulent requests for assistance it is customary for The Salvation Army to ask for individuals to provide some sort of birth record or a shot record from the school or doctor or a social security card. People are not turned away due to immigrant status! My guess is the author got ahold of a form indicating what sort of documentation was required and assumed each item listed must be provided rather than viewing it as items that can be accepted as valid proof of household membership.

    I have friends in Houston who would tear this to shreds really fast. I wouldn’t be surprised it someone has already seen it and is addressing it.

    I really hate when people with some sort of anti-religion stance pump things up to hurt valid charities during their biggest fundraising campaigns. The Salvation Army tends to be the easiest target. VERY SAD. But I assure you this isn’t a Salvation Army policy.

  29. sarajayde says:

    AS the daughter of two SA officers (ministers) in the Central Territory (Midwest, USA) I can clarify a few things.
    1. The SA was founded as fundamentalist church that set out to save the poor that were underserved by the religious community during the 1860′s (industrialization) period in London England. They believe that if you help the poor physically you can then attend to their spiritual needs. This may be considered predatory preaching by some, or a beautiful model of Christian charity by others. William Booth (the founder of the SA) would spin in his grave at how the bureaucracy has overpowered the religious ideal.
    2. I am certain that the need for SS numbers, Birth Cert, etc are necessary for book-keeping purposes i.e. to ensure each client is helped fairly (only once) and not multiple times at different facilities. They do not have unlimited resources and could easily be duped if they have to handle foreign ID’s as well.
    3. Personally, I would still not support the SA because of my personal/political beliefs but I do understand their position on this topic. The SA does do a lot to help the poor and I would argue that they are very efficient with their funds making real changes in the community, but it always come with a healthy dose of fundamentalism as well.

  30. Tzctlp says:

    To all of those not shedding a tear about this, my question is: what would Jesus have done?

    I know the answer, you know the answer. This lame organization should know the answer.

    Shame on you who hides behind the politics of convenience and xenophobia when it comes to help children, regardless of their migratory status.

    Shame on all of you, you are really despicable.

  31. sarajayde says:

    Thanks Mitch – that pretty much confirmed what I had assumed :)
    BTW: Yes, the SA is *very* image conscious. As a church/charity they have very little of substance to offer other than their image as an organization. They have most of their symbols copyright and/or trademark protected including their uniforms. Thus you will never see an official uniform in any play, movie, etc production without express consent from the SA Headquarters.

  32. zikzak says:

    Thank you for calling attention to this, Cory. The Salvation Army is a questionable charity in a lot of ways (very high overhead, poor donation:actual_help ratio), but this is definitely one of the starkest examples.

  33. Teresa Nielsen Hayden says:

    Not enough toys to go around? There’s an obvious solution: donate more.

    LuxyLyx @23:

    I work in the social services field and I agree with this practice. … You have to draw the line somewhere. If I found myself in another country without any way to support myself, I surely would not expect that country to pay for me off of their dime. The social system is there to assist so one day you will be part of the solution, not the problem.

    Personally, I think you lie like a rug. If you really worked in social services, you’d know that illegal immigrants pay far more into the system than they get out. They pay the same taxes everyone else does, but they’re afraid to ask for help, lest their illegal status be found out.

    If you really worked in social services, you’d automatically notice that the money being spent here is not coming from the government. It’s not entitlement, and it’s not social services. It’s charity.

    Therefore, I believe you’re truthless and mean-spirited, and that you’re falsely claiming to work in social services in an attempt to give more authority to your nasty and discreditable opinions.

    Lobster, the same goes for you, except for the part about claiming to be a social worker. Toys are luxuries? Shades of Mr. Scrooge! You’re hanging out and commenting on a blog that all year round discusses cool toys for adults; yet you think poor children should go without at Christmas?

    I’m not going to quote the Bible at you, because I doubt you’d care. I am, however, going to hold you in contempt.

    BdgBill @45:

    So, people who are here illegally, are getting free health care, free education and who do not pay income taxes

    It takes real talent to look that stupid that fast.

    As I’ve already explained to your brethren in the spirit, illegal immigrants pay taxes just like everybody else, but don’t ask for help from social services at anything like the normal rate. Since money is apparently all you care about, you should cheer up: you’re effectively making a profit on them.

    I could by a lot of nice things for my family with the money the government takes out of my check.

    You do buy a lot of nice things, dunderhead. All the government services, infrastructure, education, national security, etc., that you and your family enjoy is paid for by your taxes. How did you manage to graduate from high school without knowing that?

    Also, do I need to point out that those illegal immigrants could also buy a lot of nice things for their families with the money the government takes out of their checks?

    mrdavidkolds1 @56:

    There’s not enough money available to help all children so every illegal child that gets help takes away that much help from an American child. So those who disagree with the Salvation Army are really saying that American children should not get help. Shame on you!

    Shame on you, jerkface. Thanksgiving must be over for the year, so we don’t have to remember anymore that the Plymouth Colony wouldn’t have survived without help from the people who were already living there.

    As I said at the beginning, the obvious answer to there not being enough toys to go around is for people to donate more.

    So, LuxyLyx, Lobster, BdgBill, and Davidkolds1: how much have you given to charity this year? More specifically, how many toys have you donated to Christmas programs for poor children?

    Some?

    None?

    Just shooting your mouths off?

    • SamSam says:

      Wow!!! Now that you’re not officially a moderator on BB (is that right?), you’re not afraid to let it out!

      I’m grinning ear to ear at your great responses.

      @people asking what Jesus would do: everyone knows that Jesus wouldn’t allow American children to go without toys while allowing some Mexican-speaking illegal kid get some. Jesus cared about nationality above all things.

      • Xopher says:

        Yeah, isn’t she fabulous? We love us some Miss Teresa. You should see what happens when she gets really mad!

        I think UnCommonSense has the ‘Un’ in the wrong place there.

  34. redstarr says:

    I’m guessing the social security number thing isn’t intended so much to keep the immigrants out as it is to verify that the kids actually exist. While I’m sure that most of the people that apply to get the gifts for their children are honest people, the Salvation Army is probably just trying to keep some scammers from claiming children that don’t exist, aren’t theirs, have already been claimed, etc. There’s a few sleazy people out there that are likely to try to take advantage of people’s giving spirit at this time of the year.

    Unfortunately, not having a social security number also weeds out a lot of needy immigrant kids,too. Seems someone should come up with a back up method of varifying that kids are real. Like that the SSN would be the quick way, so if your kids had one, you could just use the card and make it easy, but if they didn’t have a card, you’d have to bring them into the office in person or have two other forms of proof they exist from a list of things like birth certificates (regardless of the country), school records, shot records, etc.

  35. Teresa Nielsen Hayden says:

    Anonymous @81, I don’t think much of your anonymous testimony. How about putting a real name on it?

  36. BdgBill says:

    So, people who are here illegally, are getting free health care, free education and who do not pay income taxes are complaining about not getting free toys as well?

    I could by a lot of nice things for my family with the money the government takes out of my check.

    Forgive me for not feeling too bad. I am no big fan of the Salvation Army for many of the reasons others have mentioned here but I agree with this policy.

    • Anonymous says:

      I guess maybe the children don’t understand all the good things they get for free, just that they miss out on some of the things the others get. Christmas is the perfect time to give out lessons about the status you were born into, isn’t it?

  37. Anonymous says:

    Focus in your neighborhood *FIRST.
    Know your family, help them *FIRST.
    Know your neighbors, help them *FIRST.
    If you have to “help” anonymously and make where your “donation” an issue/non issue then how can/will you ever know if you are helping or not??

    FOCUS ON YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD FIRST.

    I can guarantee that in this economy there are few children on your street, building or neighborhood that would love a warm meal and a gift this year.
    Willing to gamble on that.

    Where can you start? Your nearest church. You don’t have to be a believer, but you can sponsor a family. You can actually meet them and BE INVOLVED.

    Gee, the “old fashioned” spirit of Christmas right there, SAINT NICHOLAS.

    No political party or discrimination necessary in this case.
    Just the good, old fashioned spirit of GIVING.

  38. IronEdithKidd says:

    Isn’t there something in the bible about not punishing the son for the sins of his father?

  39. UncommonSense says:

    I think some people missed my point(s).

    A) Saying they should do this, that or the other is useless. They can do what they want. So can you. There are plenty of other charities/toy drives to which you can contribute. Or maybe even cut out the middle man and give to whomever you want directly. It seems the OP’s premise has been debunked anyway.

    B) Of course I know of other toy drives. I’ve donated to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program in the past.

    I would like to think some people who jump at any opportunity to criticize a religious organization are doing something themselves to help. But I doubt it. Wasn’t there a study that showed conservatives are more likely to contribute to charity than liberals?

    • Gloria says:

      “I would like to think some people who jump at any opportunity to criticize a religious organization are doing something themselves to help. But I doubt it. Wasn’t there a study that showed conservatives are more likely to contribute to charity than liberals?”

      Are you serious? You’ve just jumped off the deep end. What does religion have to do with conservatism or liberalism? What do TOY DONATION have to do with anything political?

      I know plenty of people who contribute to or help out charities all the time, and I don’t make a point of keeping track of their religious and political leanings; I simply think of them as decent people.

      You want to make something of it? I donate to the local food bank, United Way (a general social charity), and Child’s Play every year. Just this past month, I chipped into a co-worker’s awesome moustache fund raising awareness for prostate cancer. I’ve even given to the Canadian SA several times in the past. And yeah, I’m flamingly atheist and liberal.

      Get lost.

  40. Teresa Nielsen Hayden says:

    UncommonSense @85:

    I would like to think some people who jump at any opportunity to criticize a religious organization…

    Feel like apologizing? Go back and check. The liberals are the ones who’ve been quoting scripture in this discussion.

    • UncommonSense says:

      No I don’t. What does quoting scripture have to do with anything? There’s plenty of scripture that you, me or anyone else would have a hard time swallowing. Is this your first time on BoingBoing?

  41. Anonymous says:

    FYI, regarding Salvation Army morals, I’m transgender and I work for them. It has come up as a problem.

  42. Gloria says:

    The most baffling and sobering part is the comments, and the agree/disagree ratios. Apparently there are a lot of people who think these charities are acting appropriately. For shame.

  43. SamSam says:

    Thanks Cory, this was a good article.

    Personally I have always passed the Salvation Army over in favor of secular charities anyway, of which there are many, and which don’t have weird military structures and prohibit gay people from working for them.

    I’m sure they do good work, but unless giving to a religious organization is important to you, you can find many better charities out there.

    • Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

      Heck, if it is important to you to donate to a religious charity, there are STILL a lot of better options out there.

      The Salvation Army lost my vote when I found out that they were turning away people from their shelter in my college town, on a day when wind chills were so low that college was canceled, because those people couldn’t pass a breathalyzer.

      That’s not really the kind of charity I want to support.

  44. CEHS says:

    Although the Salvation Army is nominally a Christian Church, it’s a little bit out there. I want to share that the majority of churches help all comers regardless of their citizenship status, religion, or any other factors. I can guarantee you that any charities associated with the Catholic Church will help immigrants and that the Catholic Church has been active in opposing legislation that might prevent them from providing such aid.

    • Anonymous says:

      Didn’t the Catholic Church just threaten to stop services where gay marriages are legalized?

      • Brainspore says:

        The Catholic Church considers marriage a holy sacrament, not an act of charity. If you’re going to compare that church to the Salvation Army then the closest analogy is probably the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.

  45. Trixi says:

    This is yet another example of the goings on at the Salvation Army.

    I work in a jurisdiction and with a group of the population where the Salvation Army plays a large role and from what I know the Salvation Army is not as great as they appear to be. For example, the tax payer pays for every person who stays at the shelter for one night, a few years ago, the Salvation Army was double and triple billing this jurisdiction for the stays of these people. I suppose they also forgot the part of the bible where it says Thou Shalt Not Steal.

    I refuse to give any funds to the Salvation Army at any time of the year, as there are other real charities out there who are far less corrupt and require funds much more than the Salvation Army.

  46. Dave says:

    From the website:

    >>The Salvation Army Greater Houston Area Command does not discriminate against the immigration status of children or their parents registering for Christmas assistance through the Angel Tree Program. Requirements for registration in the Angel Tree program include some form of identification, proof of income and a social security number for at least one member of the family. The social security number is used to verify that individuals and families are not registering more than once at multiple Salvation Army facilities and to ensure people actually have the number of children they claim. Valid forms of identification include school registration, Medicaid cards, Consular cards, food stamps card, or birth certificates.

  47. Xopher says:

    This is a matter of compassion, which everyone deserves.

    While I agree with your sentiment, I would say that in matters of compassion it doesn’t matter what you deserve, because that’s what compassion is. But that’s in no way to disagree with you on the proper actions here.

    • Gloria says:

      A fair point. I agree. Not the perfect wording.

      @73: “What would an ideal solution be anyway?”

      Tons of people have offered the solution: Don’t discriminate. Done.

      Nobody here is denying the fact that there aren’t enough donations to go around to everyone in need. So there’s no call for a solution to *that.* Many are simply arguing for what limited resources to be distributed justly.

      “They are doing good, just not good enough for some people.”

      I’ll fix that for you: “They are doing good, just not for some people.” There.

  48. Anonymous says:

    I’d love to see your source here. I’ve got the Salvation Army website & can’t find any references to this issue there (where it wouldn’t be easy to find if it is there at all). Thanks!

  49. Xopher says:

    I won’t even give old clothes to the SA. They frosted me off years ago with their hiring and food-distribution practices. I find other places for my money to go.

  50. mn_camera says:

    So in essence, we will see a child, who had no say in the matter, willfully deprived because to the Salvation Army (as well as many, many others) policy means more than people.

    So did Pol Pot. The line between may be long but it is also bright.

  51. Day Vexx says:

    I can’t even begin to say how corrupt our local branch was during the time I dealt with them. Scary!

  52. Anonymous says:

    I never give to the Salvation Army anyway– they also discriminate in charity and hiring against gays and non-Christians. As a Christian, I find this totally contrary to the teaching of Jesus.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Dude, you’ve GOT to give some positive information — something about where is GOOD to give to, or a link to a site like charitynavigator at least — when you show what’s wrong with one charity. Otherwise tons of people lose faith in donating to charities altogether!

  54. Anonymous says:

    There is hardly any overhead (12% covers ALL to be exact) at the Salvation Army and has been voted “one of the best trusted charities in the country.” While The Salvation Army cannot please all, and doesn’t strive to, they always try to “do the most good.” The naysayers will continue to disagree but the hundreds of thousands of people that have received help (like me) will fully support The Salvation Army throughout their lifetime.

  55. Anonymous says:

    Thanksgiving must be over for the year, so we don’t have to remember anymore that the Plymouth Colony wouldn’t have survived without help from the people who were already living there.

    How well did that work out for the natives who helped the Plymouth Colony, Teresa?

    Plymouth Colony is a poor analogy for immigration into the US today. I do not get why people who are sympathetic to the cause of the folks illegally in the US like to compare them to Pilgrims (like Peter Bagge did in a comic linked to in an earlier Boing-boing post). The Pilgrims pretty much wiped out the people who were living here when the Pilgrims showed up, after all.

    I’d think comparing illegal migrants to the Pilgrims would be a trope of people who want to see all those migrants deported, but, for some strange reason, it’s a common comparison made by people who are sympathetic to those migrants. Almost as common as the “Jesus was an illegal migrant to Egypt” trope, which at least has the advantage of being simply incorrect, instead of being incorrect and providing ammunition for the other side of the argument.

    I suppose it could be worse-the other side of the argument likes to claim illegal immigrants are causing a leprosy pandemic, which is untrue, has its source in the natterings of Neo-Nazis, and sounds like something out of a medieval moral panic.

  56. Jewels Vern says:

    So this church watches for illegal immigrants while the government watches citizens.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  57. teapot says:

    Haha. Bad publicity WIN.

  58. grimc says:

    I wrote off the Salvation Army when its HQ asked for a waiver to allow them to discriminate against gays in hiring, yet still receive federal funding.

  59. Squeebee says:

    From the articles it appears that the SA are not the only ones, including secular charities. That said, if I had more toys than applicants then toys for all comers, but what do you do when you have more kids than toys? Tell the kids further back in line (but in the country legally) that so sorry, but you ran out handing out to the kids further ahead in line (including some that were illegal)?

    I can’t say what I would do in such a situation, but when distributing a scarce resource there are different interpretations of fair, and if you choose ‘first come, first served’ you’ll upset some who see children going without because a child who shouldn’t be there in the first place was ahead in line/got chosen in a random selection first.

  60. Boba Fett Diop says:

    Didn’t Jesus illegally migrate to Egypt when he was a boy?

  61. mrdavidkolds1 says:

    There’s not enough money available to help all children so every illegal child that gets help takes away that much help from an American child. So those who disagree with the Salvation Army are really saying that American children should not get help. Shame on you!

    • KanedaJones says:

      “So those who disagree with the Salvation Army are really saying that American children should not get help.”

      logic fail.

      its actually the desire for ALL children to get help, firt come first served. Only then they bump into the wall of limited resources, with that being a diffrent issue altogether from one’s intent.

      really

    • RedShirt77 says:

      Mr David Kolds,

      You my good man, are a sum bag. Kids are kids. You need to ask an Atheist to explain Christmas to you my friend, because you seem to think its a perfectly time to keep being a racist douche.

      Also, Americans are the people that live in America. Get used to it.

    • Brainspore says:

      And every black child that gets help takes away that much help from a potential white child. What’s your point?

    • Felton says:

      So those who disagree with the Salvation Army are really saying that American children should not get help.

      Or maybe we just don’t judge the worth of children based on their place of birth.

  62. Anonymous says:

    Salvation Army? Sorry, not interested in either of those, thanks.

  63. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Don’t get me started. The Salvation Army is a charity that takes men who beg outside liquor stores and teaches them to beg outside grocery stores.

  64. blackhound says:

    Thank you for letting us know. I’ve been a nominal supporter of the Salvation Army for years due to my father’s positive experiences with them in New York City during the Great Depression (where he was an immigrant from the Great White North, btw).

    But this policy is simply untenable.

  65. Anonymous says:

    The reasoning has nothing to do with what there parents did or didn’t do. They need a method of keeping track of who they are giving toys to so they can give toys to as many children as possible.
    YES! It is a shame that the best one they have come up with, it truly is. But none of you are working on admin for this project and none of you know exactly what they’re dealing with. And if you have similar experience and some good ideas as to how they can avoid fraud without the incidental potential for discrimination do it, for real! (I say potential because as long as they can provide a SS number for one family member they will provide to the whole family…which means not all illegal immigrants are automatically excluded.)
    This has nothing to do with passing judgment on the children or family! Can we all get past this.
    Also anon @ 93, do you have any idea how many social service programs the SA provides. It’s not just a hand in hand out thing, it runs shelters, rehabs, drop-in centres, employment clinics, it’s in the jails, it’s all over the place. I’m not sure what you’re trying to demonstrate with your whole social service vs. charity distinction. Also, you may want to do a little research if religious = must have pledged to help the poor and needy.

  66. Gloria says:

    “Tell the kids further back in line (but in the country legally) that so sorry, but you ran out handing out to the kids further ahead in line (including some that were illegal)?”

    “child who shouldn’t be there in the first place”

    Brrr. That’s what I call “ice cold.”

    When it comes to judging children, why stop at immigration status? There are so many options:

    1. School grades — why should dumb kids luck out over smart kids? Seriously.

    2. Health — why should fat kids, who overburden our health system and can’t get their fingers around the toys anyway, get precedent over skinny kids?

    3. Income — Seems like the most relevant factor here, honestly, considering the “needy” factor. “Who ate gruel for breakfast today? … Ok, who picked leftover cat food out of a Dumpster?”

    4. Talent show! — no baton-twirlers, please.

  67. ausPPC says:

    Papers! Show me your papers! I demand to see your papers immediately! Ah… Everything seems to be in order… Here you go – enjoy your fluffy bunny now won’t you!

    Seriously, we’re all born on the same planet. Why isn’t that enough?

  68. vinegartom says:

    I tweeted this story link and got a response from these asswipes: http://twitter.com/SalvationArmyUS
    I don’t know if they’re legit, but they’ve spent an awful lot of time in the last hour trying to manually debunk tweets. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  69. Anonymous says:

    There is a rationale for the birth certificate — it is to keep scamming adults from taking the toys and never giving them to kids. It is to ensure there ARE kids to give the toys to.

    The process is not good, but it is done by good intent to ensure that more toys get into more kids hands. I don’t say it’s right, but it may be less wrong.

  70. Xopher says:

    So those who disagree with the Salvation Army are really saying that American children should not get help.

    I think YOU should get help. Seriously. Talk to someone about that faulty logic circuit there. Where’d you get it, GOP Electronics?

  71. Lobster says:

    I see where you’re all coming from but I have trouble getting upset over it. I don’t think we should close the borders but these are illegal immigrants. They made a decision to come to America, and that decision can have a cost that sometimes extends to the people they love. Their kid can’t get a free present but they do get a better life (hypothetically).

    And y’know, sometimes life isn’t really fair. The rich kids always got way nicer presents on the holidays than I did. The poor kids got worse stuff than I did. They were all citizens, and no one tried to defend my right to get rich-kid toys even if my family couldn’t afford them. My parents had to spend their money on more important things.

    They made choices that effected me. I don’t feel wronged.

    • grimc says:

      They were all citizens, and no one tried to defend my right to get rich-kid toys even if my family couldn’t afford them.

      How do you know they were all citizens? Vere zay askt vor zere paperz?

    • Gloria says:

      These are charities — their very purpose is to level inequities, not further them.

      Your comparison to how families privately can afford or can’t afford their children toys is irrelevant. Nobody decided *for* you whether you deserved an expensive toy or not; that was a circumstance imposed on you because of your family’s finances.

      This is a situation where illegal immigrant children *can* receive toys, but somebody has judged, arbitrarily, that they do not *deserve* them.

      • Lobster says:

        Let us not forget that these are toys. These charities don’t /need/ to exist and these kids don’t /need/ toys at risk of dying (you can argue the psychological impact of having nothing to play with but at that point a stick can be a toy, and sticks are free for everyone).

        While this is a charity organization it is basically a luxury service. To say that the children of illegal immigrants deserve free toys is to say that ANYONE deserves free toys.

        Cowtown, you suggest that laws are more a codification of values than true orders to ensure safety, protection and morality, and in that I agree. However, illegal immigrants are committing a crime as presently defined. You can argue that it shouldn’t be a crime all you like but the courts get the final say on that one.

        • Gloria says:

          I haven’t forgotten that these are toys. In fact, that’s half of my bafflement here. First of all, it’s Christmas, which only happens once a year. Second of all, it’s *Christmas.*

          “To say that the children of illegal immigrants deserve free toys is to say that ANYONE deserves free toys.”

          If this idea that anyone deserving free toys is such a slippery slope, then why object to legal citizens losing out on free toys? They don’t really deserve them either, as toys are, as you say, a luxury. If you’re basically objecting to the whole idea of charity toy drives in general, then I have nothing to say to that.

          What we’re *saying* here is that poor families — illegal immigrant or not — who can’t afford to buy toys but would like to have them, should have a chance at them. They may not get them — perhaps the random chance of a lottery, a system of distribution I support — but nobody should not be denied the opportunity based on immigration status.

          This is a matter of compassion, which everyone deserves.

        • dculberson says:

          You could also make the claim that to say one child doesn’t deserve toys means that no child deserves toys. Makes just as much sense as your claim.

          This is a ludicrous policy that takes completely spurious info into account – what does immigration status have to do with being a child and liking toys? It’s ridiculous to try to turn this into a “citizens deserve toys more” argument. What it boils down to is coldheartedness.

        • Anonymous says:

          Anyone DOES deserve free toys.

  72. efergus3 says:

    Just plain sad…

  73. Anonymous says:

    The Houston Chronicle – which originally wrote the story on which your piece is based – has since corrected their reporting.

    The Salvation Army asks for social security numbers, driver’s license, or consular IDs, etc., for the purpose of deterring fraud. Sadly, many families will register in several Salvation Army locations for Christmas help.

    Thought you might be interested in knowing what the real story is.

  74. sunrise says:

    I can not belive how the salvation army is treating these people, I see that the SA has folks in front of the walmarts, post offices, grocerie stores ect. all over town where I live and I see immigrant folks put money into their pots all the time. I do not see them stopping these folks and asking them to show ss and Ids before giving the donation. shame on them, and I will never donate my money or buy from them ever again. Where i live we have lots of immigrants in our community and I am well known by the latino folks and this is a shocker for me and its sad for the salvation army. They are going to lose lots of clients for their ignorance. well they will live and learn. we do need to boycott them and have them taken out of business.trust me I will spread the word for what they are doing to these children and everyone else. Not a red cent ever from me again.

  75. Brett Myers says:

    “The Preacher and the Slave”

    by Joe Hill

    (to the tune of “In the Sweet By and By”)

    Long-haired preachers come out every night,
    Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right;
    But when asked how ’bout something to eat
    They will answer in voices so sweet

    You will eat, bye and bye,
    In that glorious land above the sky;
    Work and pray, live on hay,
    You’ll get pie in the sky when you die

    And the Starvation Army they play,
    And they sing and they clap and they pray,
    Till they get all your coin on the drum,
    Then they tell you when you’re on the bum

    Holy Rollers and Jumpers come out
    And they holler, they jump and they shout
    Give your money to Jesus, they say,
    He will cure all diseases today

    If you fight hard for children and wife-
    Try to get something good in this life-
    You’re a sinner and bad man, they tell,
    When you die you will sure go to hell.

    Workingmen of all countries, unite
    Side by side we for freedom will fight
    When the world and its wealth we have gained
    To the grafters we’ll sing this refrain

    You will eat, bye and bye,
    When you’ve learned how to cook and how to fry;
    Chop some wood, ’twill do you good
    Then you’ll eat in the sweet bye and bye

  76. LB says:

    I stopped donating to them after they sold the Parkside Evangeline and Ten Eyck-Troughton Residences. They made a lot of money off the deal… and threw a lot of people out of their homes. I was mostly offended, though, by the fact that the buildings were donated to them years ago for a specific purpose (to house single women of moderate means) and the Salvation Army decided that purpose wasn’t good enough.

  77. wolfiesma says:

    Heaven help the child that never had a home…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2jPRvtnnZc

    Humanity, you’ll get a second hearing tomorrow. Today, I’m afraid, it’s a FAIL.

  78. airship says:

    He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’

    Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’

    Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

    Matthew 25: 41-46

  79. LuxyLyx says:

    I work in the social services field and I agree with this practice. If it was food or other in-kind goods then I’d feel otherwise, but with the limited number of resources that we do have I would rather see someone who may pay taxes one day (or are) reap the benefit of our social system then those who are taking advantage of it.

    As much as Id love everyone to have enough of everything they need, it will never happen. You have to draw the line somewhere. If I found myself in another country without any way to support myself, I surely would not expect that country to pay for me off of their dime. The social system is there to assist so one day you will be part of the solution, not the problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am very disturbed that you work in social services.

    • Piers W says:

      Well I don’t work in the social services field and I don’t agree with it.

    • Anonymous says:

      First, you call the SA part of the “social system,” it is more accurately “charity.” It is also overtly religious which should mean that they have pledged to serve the poor and the needy. Deciding that a child is not poor or needy because his parents got here illegally is ridiculous. I’m not saying there is a perfect answer to the problem of few resources and too many people who need them, but this is definitely one of the worse.

      Second, you mention these children as never paying taxes, and thus being a burden to the rest of us, basically for ever. What does anyone know what they are going to do with their lives? If they are going to be naturalized or not? Get rich and pay taxes? And anyways should that really matter? I do not think so.

      Third, this is Christmas! Doesn’t that mean anything anymore?

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