June 28, 2016

Partly sunny

Editor’s column: Old-fashioned donating without the skimmers

I was thinking of dropping my landline telephone, but I changed my mind.

True, I don’t need a phone wired to the wall. Like most people, I do almost all of my talking on a cell phone. Mine’s a smartphone, and it does so much more than a traditional phone I joke I’m having it surgically implanted.

That said, I’ve always liked having a traditional phone — at least as a backup.

But it was more than that. I grew up with a phone, and I can’t help but see it as part of the home — just as much a fixture as the faucets, furnace and lights fed by the water, gas and electric lines.

So why give it up?

I was getting tired of calls from professional solicitors asking for contributions to charities.

Because I work into the evening, I’m often home mornings. Every weekday at 10 a.m. — I swear I could set my watch to it — the phone rings. Sometimes it’s a human voice reciting a memorized pitch. More often, just silence: A robot scout testing whether someone is home and willing to answer.

I always do. After more than 30 years of snatching up the phone at newspapers, I can’t break the habit.

But those years as a reporter also are the reason I won’t contribute no matter how worthy the cause.

I’ve seen too many stories reporting that often less than half of every dollar collected by phone solicitors actually gets to the charity. Most of the money goes to the telemarketer doing the asking.

I assume this system makes economic sense for the charities — or else they’d fire the telemarketers and hire people to do their own calling.

But it doesn’t make sense for me — not when I can write a check, send it to the charities I choose and be confident all my money is going where I want.

So that’s what I do. And that’s what I explain to the folks calling on my landline — again and again and again and again.

Which brings me to the point of this column.

It occurred to me that the next time a telemarketer calls, I’ll explain that I found a more direct and personal way to contribute to a worthy cause this Christmas: The Not-Forgotten Box sitting in The Gazette newsroom is waiting to be filled with new, unwrapped toys for children from infancy through age 17, clothing and non-perishable food items.

Once again, The Gazette is partnering with the Salvation Army in Medina, which will distribute the toys and other items to local families in need.

And no, we won’t keep half the toys for ourselves.

Contact David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or dknox@medina-gazette.com.