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As my son gathers clothes for a his Catholic School Lenten service project, he keeps saying, "We're giving this to the poor, mom." I'm always struck by this, since we are not rich by most standards. He is oblivious to the realization that he lives on much less than most other Americans. Generous people have paid for his Christmas presents while his father completes Orthodox Christian seminary. Most of his clothes are hand-me-downs. Our home is largely furnished with used or donated furniture.
"But, honey, we are the poor," I tell him. I'm at a loss at conveying that the poor don't have 'nothing.' I'd rather he think of himself as poor, as one of them, but realize that the most generous givers and, sometimes the most content, are those that others call poor. I have an instinct that I'm not addressing this just the way I want, but I want him to sense that we give away used items only if they are in good shape. If we are discerning in picking up donations, then we should also give in the same spirit.

I find myself thinking of the "Sound of Music" when Maria tell the Captain that the 'poor didn't want [this dress]' -- no wonder! It WAS ugly. From what stores are we giving?