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The School Newspaper of Texas High School

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Some ‘charities’ aren’t what they seem

The streets are flooded with the “charitable” types; there’s a kid wearing his TOMS shoes here, there’s a girl wearing her “I Love Evelyn” T-shirt over there. There is debate, however, about how efficient and honest these organizations are.

TOMS Shoes, founded by Blake Mycoskie, claims that for every pair of shoes bought, one pair will be sent to a child in need. Each pair costs at least $44, and it has been estimated that it costs approximately $9 to manufacture, according to a CNBC special entitled, “The Entrepreneurs.” The company admits to being for-profit, and not a charity.

The “shoe dropping” also hurts the local economy in these small African, Argentinean, and Guatemalan communities. By bombarding the towns with a surplus of free footwear, local businesspeople and shoemakers are suffering, despite the fact that they are producing and selling generally inexpensive and affordable shoes.

Additionally, by giving away these necessities in impoverished communities, locals who are seemingly “benefitting” are actually becoming reliant on charity.

The local organization, I Love Evelyn, is an organization devoted to talking to and spending time with the homeless. However, their determination to “reverse the condition of homelessness through the building of relationships,” caused  ordinances to be violated, and in turn, the City of Texarkana, Texas, forced them to “shut down” this summer, according to the ILE website.

“We didn’t shut them down,” said Craig Lindholm, the city’s Staff Legal Assistance. “We told them that they were violating their occupancy ordinance, and that’s it. We didn’t shut them down as they’re claiming.”

Shirley Jaster, Executive Director of Community and Public Worth for the city, said that I Love Evelyn’s initial words were contradictory to their future actions.

“They said it was going to be a place for the homeless to hang out during the day, kind of like a coffee shop, and that’s it,” she said. “It was only to be open Monday through Friday.”

However, once the building became the host of local concerts and events, and loud music was disturbing neighbors on the weekends, the city was forced to set an occupancy load, Jaster said.

“They were not happy with us when we did that,” she said. “They said we gave them a building permit and then tried to take it away. That wasn’t the case, though. Businesses change, and we understand that, but you still have to play by the rules.”

While running what they presented as a charity (but legally wasn’t considered one), the Matthews lived in lofts near the I Love Evelyn building, and during their stay, many residents were upset, including neighbor Don Riddle.

“Before (I Love Evelyn), living in the lofts were safe and nice,” Riddle said. “I was walking my dogs one night, and a homeless man hanging around the building threatened to beat me up. Men were making sexual comments to my wife. I know the Matthews say that it’s their calling, but nobody’s ‘calling’ gets to endanger me, my wife, my kids, or my grand-kids.”

Riddle at one point created a Facebook page, ‘Should I Love Evelyn be Open 24 Hours?’ Because the building was only open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., many of the people receiving services were sleeping in the hallways and using the loft showers, which made other residents uncomfortable.

“We just wanted I Love Evelyn to choose to either be day services only or a full-blown shelter,” Riddle said, “We wanted them to stop playing in the middle. You don’t play; these are people’s lives.”

Chad Matthews, founder of I Love Evelyn, was contacted, but refused to comment. Their website, however, stated that they will re-open on Friday, without a physical building; in June, Matthews blogged that their mission will continue, only from the back of a van.

Teenagers are notorious for blindly accepting pretty packages, such as the marketing of TOMS and I Love Evelyn, without delving into the substance of the matter. Through research and skepticism, it is revealed that there are better ways to give back to charity, such as volunteering with local organizations with longstanding reputations that are focused on promoting pro-activity and long-term fixes.

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  • B

    BlakeSep 9, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    This article is profoundly incorrect. If the writer had spent just a minute with the folks at I Love Evelyn, then she would have seen that it was a compassionate group of people seeking to restore the lives of broken individuals.

    Reply
  • C

    Cody leeMay 5, 2011 at 11:24 am

    hmmmm..

    Reply
  • M

    Marian HIllSep 30, 2010 at 12:03 am

    I like the story! 🙂 I think that it was well covered and interesting. very good facts and unbiased presentation.

    Reply
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Some ‘charities’ aren’t what they seem