Originally Posted by Viva Las Disney
I always get a kick out of these threads because both sides are right, there are very needy people and there are also people gaming the system.
A few years ago I volunteered with a friend whose church (Dream Center of Las Vegas) has a huge Thanksgiving festival in one the poorest parts of Las Vegas, to this day it ranks as one of the best and worst days of my life. It was an amazing experience because there were barbers, they set up portable shower tents, there were several semi trailers of donated clothes, health products, toys, and school supplies, there is a street carnival with bounce houses and little kid rides, tons of bagged food, and then there is a huge outdoor thanksgiving dinner. Lots of smiles and lots of tears of joy. It was a terrible experience because I wasn't prepared for just how bad off many of the people who came were. There were people who didn't have shoes or whose shoes were full of holes, there were people who hadn't had a shower in weeks, there were little kids with clothes that were filthy and torn, there were people who hadn't had a hair cut in years. These are people who truly need help.
On the other hand I've also seen my share of fraud, or at least what appears to be blatant fraud. The most memorable for me was standing behind a lady with an overflowing cart of food at the grocery store who paid with an EBT card, I know she used an EBT card because it was a couple hundred dollars worth of food and whatever didn't qualify got set aside so she could pay cash for it, in the parking lot I saw her loading all that food into a new Escalade, I have a pretty nice car but loading my groceries, that I work my butt off for, into my 6 year old $25k (when new) car while she loaded up her "free groceries" into her new $70k luxury SUV made me want to scream. These are the people that ruin it for the truly needy.
See but that was the point - yes the car could have been hers but you don't know- if people judged my friend and neighbor yesterday on what they saw, they would have seen a married lady with six kids hop out of a new higher end mini-van. Even further looking and you would know her husband hadn't worked in years. His injuries are mostly in the lower half of his body (and ptsd) and not completely obvious- it would be easy to think he is some lazy deadbeat not a man who risked it all for his country.
Back when I was a single mom there were a few months I had my parent's Mercedes. They didn't want me driving in an unreliable car and I needed to wait a few more months to get something. My kids still had the designer clothes grandma bought for them, and my oldest who was only 5 at the time had a cell phone so she could contact me if her dad didn't show up to pick her up etc. (which happened) and I had one because my youngest had health problems and I needed to have a phone on me at all times. I didn't use government assistance or the food bank, and I worked my a** off, but our shelves were still bare and things were really tough. Many nights I didn't eat because I was worried that my girls wouldn't have something the next day if I did. I can't imagine how I would have been judged had I gone to the food bank, in a Mercedes with my well dressed children and cell phones. But there is no doubt that I could have used the help.
Funny thing is those that look the best at first glance may be in just the type of intermittent trouble that a lot of programs were meant to help you through.