OFH Clothing for a Cause

food for the homeless & hope for the hopeless

You want this shirt?

on May 22, 2011

the shirt off (one’s) back Slang

The maximum one is able to give or lose. According to Scholastic’s Dictionary of Idioms, “The origin is from the 1770’s, and is almost self-explanatory.  If you saw a needy person in the street who was cold because he had no shirt, and you actually took your shirt off and gave it to him, it would be an act of great kindness.  Today, if you perform any act of self-sacrifice, we say its like ‘giving the shirt off your back”‘ to someone.” Are we really willing to do that? Really?

A friend of mine and I had a brief discussion about this Sunday morning. We had both had a very similar ‘conversation’ with God in the past week.  I was simply getting dressed. In my mind I heard ‘ Isn’t that a favorite shirt?’ Uh, yeah. Well I want it. What? That shirt. This one?  Yes. My friend didn’t give up the shirt. But he promptly found a place to donate the same amount he had paid for the shirt. It was a really nice shirt.

It’s a sad fact that what some people give, they wouldn’t put on their own back.  I have had people knowingly donate incredibly dirty and torn items and say “Surely someone with nothing would appreciate this”. This is probably a true statement if we were talking about a third world country. Even at that I would question the ‘blessing’.  But we are not in a third world country. We are in West Cobb.

The children and families receiving items donated go to work and school with us. They shop in the same Walmart we do. They want to look just like you and me. Not stand out. The reality you are needy is handled better when you can just fit in. A kind of camouflage. Sometimes the items donated are sold to generate funds to help feed these families, pay a bill or provide housing.

Times are tough. There is a lot of need. If you didn’t have a spare dime because things are tight in your own household would you simply give the shirt off of your back?  Really? It’s a thought provoking question.


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