Years ago at a stoplight, I watched a hand extend from a car window to give cash to a man holding a cardboard sign that read, “Need gas.” A red plastic gallon-sized can was at his feet. I was on my way to Seneca for the day and when I returned to Joplin late in the afternoon, guess who was still standing on that same corner with the same prop? I couldn’t help but laugh considering the guy at that point probably had enough in his pocket for gas to drive a motorhome to Ft. Lauderdale.
After my wife and I started our mission 17 years ago, we learned quickly that both feel-good charity and redistributionist policy were hurting people more than helping them. Unfortunately, I had no real public square to debate the issues or to communicate my valuable findings from experience in the field of poverty-relief work.
About 5 years ago, I first thought of writing a PSA for the radio in hopes of communicating to a larger audience the importance of considering thoughtful effective charity before welfare and handouts. I remember standing in one of the quiet dim-lit recording studios inside Zimmer Radio, nervously recording my first spot. The mechanical jointed arm of the mic boom pushed the giant foam-covered microphone to my mouth as if to challenge me, “Well… I hope you have something important to say.” I did.
Not long after I left that first session, Chad from the station called me and asked if I wouldn’t mind coming back down to record a conclusion for the spot. Very kindly, he advised, “James, it would probably be a good idea if you said who you are and who you’re with.” Honestly, it seemed odd to me. Simply wanting to communicate principles of effective charity, I was oblivious to the benefit of closing my PSA’s with the name of my mission. Even if I had recognized that as common sense, I could never have imagined the positive impact it would yield for our ministry over the years.
Since that first recording, Zimmer Radio has aired more than 40 PSA spots that have resulted in a countless number of people stopping by the mission with a desire to partner with us for no more of a reason than, “I’ve been hearing those PSA’s.” Still, more important to me is that on hundreds of occasions, 180,000 listeners have been impacted as they hear the importance of coupling compassion with common sense solutions that can really help the poor. My thanks to the team at Zimmer Radio for giving me a voice in the public square.
For True Charity,
James C. Whitford
Watered Gardens GRM