In crisis in need

Years ago, my husband and I were in need. We had growing medical bills from our baby who was struggling just to breathe.

Those bills reached over a million dollars.

Our nervous system was severely frayed by watching our daughter’s fight for survival in the ICU due to rare birth anomalies, and the constant interaction with medical practitioners who belittled our intellect and made us feel we had no hope and no voice left us extremely fragile.

We were truly a needy family.

We were not before that and we are not anymore, but 18 years ago, we were absolutely the needy.

I’m going to ask you something very important here.


Don’t give crap to the needy.


The Lamp

Here are a few experiences from our journey that taught us a great deal about giving:

During our struggle as a family, a community member let herself into our house and placed a broken old lamp in our sunroom.

She didn’t want it.

She knew we were struggling.

So without asking, she left it in our home and happily told us what she had done after I asked her why her broken lamp was in my sunroom.

I was dumbfounded and unable to tell her how violated I felt by that action.

You see, when a person is in a crisis and in need, that person is busy just trying to keep her head above water. I had no time nor energy to correct the actions of this toxic giver. If someone is truly in crisis, neither will she have the time nor the energy.

Garbage bags

We even experienced people dropping off garbage bags of old clothes to our front door.

Our home was in a nice suburban neighborhood. We had plenty of clothes, but somehow people felt the need to dump their trash on our doorstep.

Here’s the crazy thing, the givers fed their ego off of the giving of trash.

It has astounded me for decades.

Why now?

So, why bring this up now, you might be thinking? Currently, I have two close friends battling breast cancer, so I am writing this on their behalf in the hope that they can experience the generosity of the human spirit.

You are generous.

You have that in you. I just know it!

With that in mind, don’t give them your crap!

But, Laurie, you might be saying, how do I know how to give to someone in need if you are going to put stipulations on it?

OK, I’ll keep it simple.

Dos and Don’ts

Follow these Dos and Don’ts when giving to a person in need:


Don’t treat the person in need like she is a dog in a shelter, days away from being euthanized.

I can’t tell you the number of times people talked about me, while I was standing in front of them like I was road kill.

Do treat the person in need like she is a friend.

Allow the person in need to keep her dignity.


Don’t give your old clothes to someone in need.

If it doesn’t look good on you, chances are highly likely it’s not going to look good on the person in need.

It was so overwhelming to have bags of clothes dropped off at my doorstep. My husband and I had to transport those bags to the Goodwill as if we didn’t have enough on our plate.

A person in need is not an excuse for your laziness.  

Do donate money to the family, so they can have control over buying what they need.


Don’t give old furniture to the needy.

If you don’t want something in your house, it’s not reasonable to think you can dump it on the person you know in a crisis.

Do offer to help clean the home of the needy person, or donate money to her so she can improve her home.


Don’t call or text the person and lay your burdens on her.

I can’t count the number of phone calls I got from people who proceeded to unload their trauma on me while I was watching my daughter breathe on a ventilator.

Keep your problems to yourself. Seek a therapist if you need someone to talk to. Don’t dump on the person in crisis.

Do have compassion for the person in need.

Call or text and be there to listen to the person in need. You don’t have to console or educate or comment.  Just listen

Be a shoulder for her to cry on.


Don’t ever announce that you have given to a needy person.

There were so many times when I would be standing in a group of people and someone would bring up how she cooked a meal for my family.

I would spend the next 20 minutes giving gratitude to that person for cooking a meal for me only to walk away feeling drained.

In feeding me and announcing it to the community, that person fed her own ego. Don’t feed off of the needy.

Do give generously to the needy without letting anyone else know. Be a selfless giver!

Your best

Don’t give your worst to a person in need.

Do give your best to a person in need.

My two friends are in need right now, so in a nutshell:

Give the best you have to give to those in need in whatever form you have to give, whether it is your food, money, or time.

Give, but give the very best.

My friends are counting on you!