In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, a local news station in Tampa Bay, Florida reported that a six-year-old named Jermaine donated his Disney World savings fund toward helping victims of the natural disaster by handing out hot dogs, snacks, and smiles. I found the story heartwarming, but many others saw Jermaine’s generosity as a referendum on the failures of our federal government and asked why a six-year-old is sacrificing his savings to “do the job of the state/national government?”
I hate these kinda stories. Why is 6 year old Jermaine sacrificing his Disney World savings funds to do the job of the state/national government?? https://t.co/3o93kqflSM
— John Wolf (@DJTosin) September 6, 2019
At the surface, this appears to be a fair question. Disaster relief is often considered a public good, and those complaining are correct that it should never be necessary for a six-year-old to donate his savings in such situations. Of course, the catch here is that Jermaine didn’t need to intervene.
He chose to put his money towards helping Dorian’s victims, deciding that helping others was more important than going to Disney World. Jermaine’s decision to give his time and money is not evidence of government failure. Our government will likely provide billions in aid to the victims as they have in Puerto Rico, Houston, New York, and elsewhere. Rather, it is evidence that there are only so many things government money can do to repair broken communities.
Everybody generally agrees that helping people is a good thing, but what some people don’t understand is that such assistance is not solely the responsibility of our federal government. There will always be room for external help. By creating a false dichotomy in which only either the six-year-old or the government can accomplish the end goal of repairing communities, critics of such generosity from children can paint a distorted picture of our path forward.
Fostering a sense of generosity in our youth should be encouraged, not shamed. While children obviously should not feel obligated to contribute in such situations, there are few—if any—good reasons to prevent them from doing so if they want to help. Jermaine’s story should make us realize that we all have something to give.
If a six-year-old can donate his Disney World savings to Hurricane victims, we have no excuses to not pitch in when disaster strikes in our communities.
That being said, if we truly want to make a difference, we must work together with our government to alleviate the burdens of affected communities. Jermaine’s story is just one small, yet meaningful, example of Americans lending a helping hand to their fellow countrymen and neighbors. Organizations like the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity have long been prominent disaster relief partners, and people like Houston Texans Defensive End, JJ Watt, have been able to raise millions to rebuild their communities.
Ultimately, when we are traveling through murky waters, it is nice to see that other people care. Governments can allocate money and fund disaster relief initiatives, but they cannot replace the sense of community provided by involvement from churches, non-profits, and individuals like Jermaine that are so important in touching people’s lives amid despair.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.