The unintentional art of mindless giving

The unintentional art of mindless giving

It occurred to me around the 1,459th time the McDonald’s drive-thru worker asked me if I wanted to round up my change and give to the Ronald McDonald House that something was going on, that they would not be stopping their push. The Ronald McDonald House is a really good thing, but this was bigger than that. This was widespread and happening at all sorts of stores like Lowe's, Dollar Tree, Walmart at the self-checkout lane and really just everywhere.

I don’t remember when it started happening, but I do know it’s been more aggressive in the past three to four years. It’s part of the script now, the mantra that repeats with each visit for a coffee or Diet Coke. I am not talking about the clear plastic jar that sits at your local convenience store taking donations for someone that has an illness or was in an accident. I’m talking about the intentional, powerful push for the actual pennies in your pocket.

I call it “mindless giving,” which is essentially putting you on the spot when you’re off guard. You think, “Well, this is a great organization, so why not?” It makes us feel good in the moment, or maybe it doesn’t make us feel anything at all, just a blip on the radar of our day.

I’ve found so often that anytime there is a push to nationally forgive a debt or help people who actually need the help — regular people — there is often gnashing of teeth and lots of words spoken in bitter, negative tones. But we then turn around and donate to big corporations 67 cents at a time as they rake in our pennies.

I’m not doing a deep dive here, so I haven’t done research on where all the money goes. I don’t have all the facts and don’t need to. I’m sure the money goes where they say it will, but I decided that in 2023 I’m going to make my money work for me. Before anyone tells me I should stop buying coffee at fast-food chains, I’d tell you to look at your own throw-away spending first — the literal French fry instead of log in your brother’s eye. If you really want to get me, tell me to stop spending $5 at the thrift store every week. We all have our weaknesses and our pleasures, but I digress and lay out my plan in this very public place.

I’ve decided every single time I get asked to round up my change, give a dollar, buy a toy for charity or really anything at any point of sale (remember I said point of sale), I’m going to decline and put that amount in a container under my bed. I don’t really know if I’ll keep it under my bed, but I believe this will be a big challenge to keep track of because the number of places that ask for a dollar are many.

I’m sure some of you are thinking I’m not being a cheerful giver. That’s not the case at all. I often find it hard to believe how much money we mindlessly give to corporations, but when we see someone on the street that needs a hand up, we whisper to ourselves or whoever is with us that “they need to get a dang job.” Maybe that $5 bill we give them is the spark they need to make that happen.

I’ve been planning this for months. I’ve given away a lot of change over the years that I’m sure went to good causes, but this year I’m going to see how much that adds up to because I’m more than curious.

Anyone else want to chuck our rounded-up money in a bucket and see how much we save at the end of the year? Let’s circle back around to this in December.

Melissa Herrera is a columnist, published author and drinker of too many coffees based in Holmes County. You can find her book, "TOÑO LIVES," at or buy one from her in person (because all authors have boxes of their own novel). For inquiries or to purchase, email her at

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