I may have mentioned before that I am on the committee for the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Relay for Life. Being on the committee is a lot of work, but can really be a lot of fun. With the fun, comes the maybeeeeeee......... not so fun stuff. Like soliciting. :o\
I don't know about you, but it seems like you cant even go in or out of a store without being hit up for something these days. A donation to the vets, the homeless, those recovering from addiction, green peace, or how about you just sign my petition. OH! And those relentless girls scouts right now seem to be EVERYWHERE. I mean, I love Girl Scout cookies as much as the next person, but these kids are driving me crazy.
Anyway, back on subject... We got permission to sit outside a local grocery store and hit people up for donations and to pass out flyers to get the word out about the Relay. It was up to K and I to make this thing a success. Uh oh.
At first we approach folks for donations, "Hi, would you like to donate a dollar to the American Cancer Society?" People wouldn't even look in our direction, let alone acknowledge our presence. It was a tough pill to swallow. No one takes rejection well, but I couldn't believe how cold these people were when we were just out trying to do some good in the world.
One woman stopped at the table we set up and shared that she was a breast cancer survivor. We didn't even offer her info on the Relay, we just offered some ACS pamphlets about cancer and what ACS has to offer. This woman literally turned away as we tried to offer her the pamplets and said, "I'm way beyond that point," as she abruptly walked off. Wow! We usually get the best responses from cancer survivors, but I guess she was the exception to the norm.
It was obvious the money approach wasn't working so I suggested we switch gears. Let's just give out the flyers and focus on just spreading the word and try to get more people interested or involved. This went a little better, but people were still surprisingly rude and discounting.
I approached this one woman who, without even looking in my direction, literally put her finger up and said, "uuuhh, no." My own mother doesn't even put her finger up at me. It was insane.
After telling our ACS Staff Partner what a hard time we were having, she suggested we change our approach yet again. She told us to put the flyers inside of the reusable grocery bags we had and give away the bags. You would think on the way into the grocery store, people would be all over a free usable bag, right? Wrong. We could barely give those things away!! It blew my mind.
The store manager came out at one point and asked how it was going and we told him it wasn't going well. He said we'd have better luck on Sunday. And we did. K and I didn't go out Sunday, but they raised $75 on Sunday to our $21 on Saturday.
This taught me a valuable lesson about human kindness. As much as I despise being solicited every time I enter a store, I usually tried to at least acknowledge the people but I rarely made eye contact and hardly broke my stride as I told them, "Sorry, I don't have any cash on me." There were days when I was caught up in my own ish and might not have given them the time of day. But after spending hours being on the other end of soliciting, I made a promise to myself that I would always be kind to those people. They're just trying to do their part to make the world a better place.
So, I challenge you to do the same. It doesn't mean you have to give to every person that asks you for money or a signature. Just take a minute to look them in the eye, give them a kind smile, and tell them no, thank you. Maybe even acknowledge what they're doing by thanking them for trying to make a difference.
Whatever you do, don't just walk by, ignoring their presence. They are people too.... Someone's friend and family member. And even though they don't know you from Adam, it still hurts a little when someone discounts your mere presence by blatantly ignoring them. We are all worthy of a little acknowledgement.