Supporters of ‘trendy’ charities lose credibility

Zoë Newcomb
News Editor

Charities and causes have become like teeny, shivering purse dogs. They’re fascinating but they all look exactly the same.
It’s not unusual to hear about classmates who are involved in five or 10 clubs; one to feed the homeless, one to help children with cancer, another that rescues stray cats. In the past, people supported causes that they believed in and were important to them. Nowadays, doing good is just another accessory — much like those tiny purse dogs or an armful of bangles.

Supporting causes has lost the integrity it once had. Flip through a magazine and find a new charity to join. Turn on the TV and see celebrities promoting new political candidates. Adolescents are constantly bombarded with something new they should care about. Joining a cause used to be about pouring heart and soul into something that is personally important. Now it’s just about lending your name to another petition or buying the eco-friendly clothes to make yourself feel good.

In the last presidential election, Barack Obama garnered the support of young people across the country, many of whom were not even of voting age. “Obama” was branded, commercialized, and placed on t-shirts of middle schoolers everywhere. But it’s not likely that those 13-year-olds understood Obama’s politics, let alone even know what he supported.

Following the crowd is easy, especially for kids who are still finding themselves, but it defeats the purpose of advocating the rights of others and showing compassion on those who need help. True community service is stepping out to those in need, whether or not friends are involved.

This is not to say that it’s bad for a large group of people to stand behind an issue, but sometimes when people who are not fully dedicated get involved, the spirit of the cause is lost.

Many people call themselves environmentalists or try to be eco-friendly. Just walk down the street and see the people sporting shirts that say “Go Green” and tote bags that claim “I’m 100% Recyclable.” Stores have shelves of eco-friendly goods from tank tops to makeup. Being eco-friendly is about re-using more, so it seems ironic that the cause can now be equated with mass consumerism.

Choosing to support only the things that are important is a hard thing to do, but giving is much more effective when a people are dedicated to what they are involved in.

Trends come and go, but helping something you believe in never goes out of fashion.