Editorials

‘Toxic charity’ left a mess near the Fresno Rescue Mission. Help is needed to clean up

Trash left over from the holidays litters property near the Rescue Mission in downtown Fresno. A clean up is planned Saturday and volunteers are needed.
Trash left over from the holidays litters property near the Rescue Mission in downtown Fresno. A clean up is planned Saturday and volunteers are needed. tweber@fresnobee.com

For those who made a New Year’s resolution to do a good deed, the Fresno Rescue Mission has an immediate opportunity.

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon, volunteers are needed to help clean up what Rescue Mission CEO Matt Dildine calls “toxic charity” that has resulted in large amounts of trash, discarded clothing and other types of debris strewn about the 200 block of G Street, where the mission is located.

What is toxic charity? Dildine explained that occurs when well-meaning people try to help the homeless people found in abundance along lower G Street and neighboring blocks. These charitable individuals will bring food, clothing and other things to the homeless, thinking that will help them.

Dildine said he was working at the Rescue Mission on Christmas Eve and took a few minutes to go outside to clean up some trash. He headed to a corner and witnessed a car pull up. People exited and walked over to homeless camping nearby to hand out bags of food. That car left, but 10 minutes later, another one rolled up, and those people handed out enchiladas. Ten minutes later another car drove up, and this time the meal was tacos.

Dildine saw that happen six times, and while he is grateful for the assistance, the same homeless individuals were getting the largesse. There are no trash cans along the street, so whatever does not get consumed simply gets left along the roadway.

“People regularly drop off stuff” to the homeless on G Street, Dildine said. “We’ve even had people drop off puppies and dogs,” he said. “There is such a thing as toxic generosity. We do not want to discourage people’s generosity. But there has to be better ways to give.”

One way to make a valuable difference is Saturday’s cleanup. Volunteers will gather at the Rescue Mission, 263 G. St., at 10 a.m. A short briefing will be done on cleanup basics. For example, needles are frequently found along the street. Dildine said volunteers will be taught how to properly dispose of needles.

The event will end at noon, and a lunch will be served to those who participate. Volunteers should bring gloves, trash bags, trash grabbers and wear sturdy shoes. There is also a chance of showers, so rain gear might be needed.

The Rescue Mission’s phone is 559-268-0839, but volunteers can simply show up. Parking will be available at the south-end lot. Children ages 6 and up are welcome to join in.

“We feel it’s our calling to help clean up the feet of our great city,” Dildine said, “and we welcome everyone to join our cause.”

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