Most charities are run by kind, compassionate, wholesome human beings. Please notice the absence of the word "competent" from that list of descriptors. That's because, through greed, bad luck, or good old-fashioned stupidity, plenty of charitable events have crashed straight into the ground, creating as much grief as they did relief. For example ...
It would be unfair to compare ticket scalpers to drug dealers. Unfair to the drug dealers, that is, because as far as we know, they've never tried to defraud a charity dedicated to bombing victims.
On May 22, 2017, a suicide bomber attacked an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 and injuring 100 more. But not even punk terrorists can subdue the awesome strength of pop music, so Grande promised to return to Manchester to hold a benefit concert featuring some of the greatest musicians alive (and the Black Eyed Peas). And her fans responded in kind, with the show being sold out in mere minutes .... and then sold all over again on eBay.
Turns out that quite a few of those of quick fans were scalpers looking to make a quick buck from this event. Before long, several "One Love Manchester" tickets were being sold on various online markets for up to ten times the original price, with all the profits going not to charity, but to buy these ghouls their used ATVs and what have you. But not everyone is down with exploiting a tragedy for money. eBay and many other sites immediately cracked down on ticket resales, hunting down listings and restricting sellers. So that cut down on, like, at least a little bit of the scalping. Hooray.
North Wales has a tradition called the Old Colwyn Fancy Dress Pub Crawl, combining the favored British pastimes of dandying up and getting absolutely wasted. Even better, all the money raised goes to Cuddles, a local charity that supports babies in the special care unit at Glan Clwyd [sic, Welsh] Hospital. Who could possibly ruin something so wholesome? We'll tell you: racists. Racists can.
On its ten-year anniversary, the pub crawl went awry when a bunch of awful white people decided to put on blackface and roam around town in their official capacities as charity volunteers, asking for donations in what we'll assume were very inappropriate accents. To add insult to injury, when the hospital heard of this, they flat out rejected the raised funds, telling them to donate to an equality charity instead. And wow, if the saints who save babies' lives for a living can't find it in their hearts to forgive you, you have to take a good long look in the mirror (peel that shoe polish off while you're at it).
Feeding the hungry is the only mission of Osnabrucker Tafel, the German equivalent of Meals On Wheels. Their volunteers service hundreds of hungry folks, and to that end, they collect about 5 tons of donated food each day. It's a shame they never specified it had to be human food.
T'was the night before Christmas, and all seemed well, when one elderly man received his dinner from Osnabrucker Tafel. The glass jar the meal had come in spoke of a delicious "meat dish," its venison, potatoes, and vegetables fresh "from the land." But when he decided to heat up his feast, it became apparent there was something off with his food. And that may have something to do with every dog in a five-mile radius losing their minds.
Fetching a magnifying glass, the man read the small print and realized his meal wasn't some low-grade human chow, but in fact fancy dog food. Well, not that fancy, as the ingredients list featured mainly intestines, hearts, and muscle meat. As far as the charity is aware, it served this doggy treat to at least three other old folks as well, though it decided not to disclose whether they were less fussy about it.
Osnabrucker Tafel immediately apologized and claimed to be horrified by the switcheroo. But they still drew some criticism ... from the dog food makers, who insist they clearly label their product, and that it is in fact perfectly fine for human consumption. Though maybe not as a Christmas dinner.
Christmas can be a really stressful time for poor families, as some parents can't afford to simply chuck a PlayStation under the tree and then go shotgun eggnog for the rest of the day. Luckily for them, charity toy drives come to the rescue, giving away free Christmas presents to all the underprivileged boys and girls. They're pretty much like Santa Claus ... the only difference being that Santa never makes mistakes. Which is probably why, unlike some charity organizers, he's never been punched in the mouth.
A few days before Christmas '17, hundreds of impoverished Detroit parents gathered at a local charity event to pick up free presents provided by Toys For Tots. But after waiting for several hours in the freezing cold, the toys they had applied for months in advance did not come. No one knows why or how the local organizers failed to present the presents on time. And we'll likely never know, because when the stressed-out parents cracked, bloody chaos erupted like a very special Christmas Purge Night.
In what had to be the most confusing dispatch call in their lives, police were radioed in to halt a massive brawl at the toy drive. They even had to arrest one mom for pulling a knife on another woman in line and threatening to kill her. After the crowd was dispersed, the event didn't exactly take a turn for the charitable, and not a single gift was handed out -- unless you count the knife that one woman tried to gift to another woman's chest.
Even though they're nothing but latex filled with stale breath, people sure love balloons. There's no such thing as too many. So when one charity decided to launch a giant fundraiser in Cleveland, they figured it would be a slam dunk to just get as many balloons as humanly possible.
Turns out there is such a thing as too many balloons.
Working with a Los-Angeles-based company, United Way of Cleveland hosted a charity drive around breaking the world record of most balloons launched at once. Balloons were sold for a dollar a pair, and volunteers and participants alike gathered under a massive tarp to blow them all up. Then, at the launch of Balloonfest '86, the tarp was opened and 1,429,643 balloons shot into the sky like a mushroom cloud, landing the city in the Guinness Book of World Records ... twice. Once for most balloons launched, and once for most deaths caused by party balloons.
While the charity had gotten all the right permits, they did forget to ask one person's permission: Zeus. A few hours after the release, a massive storm erupted, knocking all the balloons down onto the ground like an artillery barrage of trash. The balloons shut down a local airport and caused multiple freeway accidents. Several prize-winning horses were also injured, as an apocalypse's worth of wheezing latex rained down upon them, causing the owners to sue the city.
But the worst damage didn't occur on land. The million balloons scattered as far as Canada and the Great Lakes, turning the waters into a Jackson Pollock painting. Luckily, the balloons were biodegradable, so there was no ecological cost. Unfortunately, there was a human one. The Coast Guard received a distress call for an overturned boat, but because there were a bazillion balloons whipping about, they couldn't launch a helicopter rescue right away. And when they did get in the air, all the floating balloons made it impossible to tell man from Mylar. One widow held the balloon festival legally responsible for her husband's death. That's quite a price to pay for neglecting to check the weather.
Christian Markle is your writer waiting for your next instructions. Ping him at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more, check out Hope In Every Box -- People Watching, Season 2, Episode 10:
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