Is charity the new publicity stunt?

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Dear Editor, 

Recently, a famous dancehall entertainer lashed out at an Instagram follower who criticised one of her posts. 

In this particular video post, we see the entertainer delivering clothes and appliances to a needy family in Jamaica. The follower expressed that some people seem to be doing “things for fame” as their acts of charity are often posted on social media. Not surprisingly, she was subsequently hurled with some “bloody-bamboo” cloth for her comment. 

In a follow-up post, the entertainer explained that the items were donated by a number of people. Consequently, it was necessary to publicise their delivery so that the “people who donated their money can see [that] the stuff went to the people.” 

Certainly, I applaud people, such as this entertainer, for generously giving to those in need. Such an act is commendable, and many of us should really follow suit. However, like her follower, I am not always comfortable with the broadcasting of charitable acts. 

Last Christmas, I saw the showcasing of many similar charities. Several of my social media “friends,” for example, presented boxes of food to the homeless. Their kindness was heartening, but something about their doing was deeply off-putting.  

Some of these people presented the food in a manner quite akin to one presenting certificates at an award ceremony. 

They outstretched the food boxes with one hand, extended the other for a handshake, paused in position and smiled for the camera. The pictures were then plastered all over their Instagram and Facebook pages. Now, what is the real reason for doing all this? Who truly benefits? 

Growing up, I speculated that my mother gave away many of our outgrown clothes. They just disappeared. In fact, one day, I even saw a little girl in a dress resembling one I owned. However, I could only have assumed that it was mine as Mum kept all the recipients secret.

She feared that we would have flapped our mouths about these persons or worse, jeer the children for wearing “second hand”. Therefore, I learnt from very early that people may be very poor and needy, but they still have their pride. Allow people the privacy to enjoy what you give them.

Nobody wants to be on the road and constantly pointed at and talked about because he or she was broadcast on social media as a charity beneficiary. 

Please, continue to give, but you do not need to make a show of this. Charity should never be a social or political ploy. 

Shawna Kay Williams-Pinnock

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