Every May and November I do a giveaway with all of the review samples I have collected over the six or so months from the last giveaway. Thus far they have all benefited the Wounded Warrior Project. There has been push back before and I have always resisted using the logic that even if they are wasteful, they are the biggest and have the biggest impact.
Well, the news has not been good when it comes to WWP. Senators are questioning what happened. This is not good. So, at least for the upcoming May giveaway, I am not going to be supporting them. If they turn things around I might go back. If not, I will find a new charity.
I take this giveaway very seriously, often dropping in a few items of my own to spur donations. So I do a lot of research on charities. Given that the giveaway is less than 60 days away I am not sure I am going to be able to find one and vet it in time.
So I am a bit stuck.
One impulse I have is to go to a charity I have already vetted and know personally. To this end I am thinking about doing a fundraiser for a local Drug Court. The Drug Court movement started in the late 90s as an alternative disposition to drug cases in criminal courts. I have been familiar with and taken part in three. Additionally, I have done extensive research on the efficacy and accountability of these programs.
Drug courts have problems. This American Life did a story on one drug court in Georgia and it was truly horrifying. The science is sparse and bias to say the least. There are no scientifically validated studies on drug courts that were NOT funded by a government institution related to drug court. But that is the drug court movement as a whole. My experience with my local Drug Court, as a lawyer, has been quite different. I feel confident in saying that this is a well-run program worthy of charity. A few dollars will have a huge impact. They could be used as a scholarship for recovered addicts to go to school or to buy incentives to help people stay clean or to buy testing equipment to hold people accountable. The money, even a tiny bit, would have real value.
But I also know that people have misgivings about drug rehabilitation programs. I know a lot of readers are in law enforcement and sympathetic to law enforcement. My local Drug Court has more law enforcement representatives than anyone else and they have bought in, but people in other places might have other experiences.
The final thing I want to tell you before I put it to a vote is this--the herion epidemic you hear about in the news is not just media hype. Its real. I am on the ground every day and I see it. People that used to smoke weed are dying of heroin. People that used to experiment with heroin are hardcore addicts. And thus far, only good Drug Court programs, in conjunction with superior treatment options, seem to work. My local Drug Court is doing good work.
So I put it to you in the form of a vote--should the gear giveaway be for my local Drug Court or not?
I would love to pick a charity with broader scope so that it could effect everyone, but, as I wrote, I am not sure I have enough time. If you vote no, drop a comment below with an alternative recommendation. Do not, however, recommend an animal charity or an environmental charity. Let's fix people problems first. And don't badger me about the environment being a people problem...blah, blah, blah....