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SHTF Charity Is For Fools

Do you have friends and loved ones who are still living a “sheeple” life and don’t see the writing on the wall, no matter how much you try to educate them about the need to prep? Me too. You have probably thought about what is going to happen to them after the SHTF, but have you thought about how that will effect you…and prepare for it?

My husband convinced me to go all in on this prepping thing after we lived through a nearly two week long power outage that hit the tri-state area after a summer storm about six years ago. We were in the midst of a heat wave, near drought, and were townies then. It was a small town in a rural county, so the entire community banded together and got through it, we had no safety concerns like folks in urban areas would have had.

But no store in a 30-mile radius had water, ice, or gas for days to a week. When some stores in the next county over did get power, their supplies were very limited and ration limits were strictly imposed, resulting in very long lines (we are talking two hour+ wait here, folks) and the majority of the hot and thirsty people in line, going away extremely disappointed.

By the time power and normalcy were restored, although the storm cost us the only grocery store in the county, a smaller one only opened, finally, a few months ago, I was ready to become a full-fledged prepper.

Before I signed on the figurative dotted line to become my husband’ prepping partner, we had a short but emotionally poignant discussion about not only our relocation plans, but how people showing up at the gates of our homesteading survival retreat – no matter who they were, would be received.

Until I got a commitment from my Bobby that I, not he, would be dealing with all comers post-doomsday disaster, I was not going to even bother engaging in any type or preparedness activity or agree to major purchases…there would simply be no point, because it would all be for nothing.

He agreed, and now we are perfecting our 56-acre homesteading survival retreat in Appalachia.

I adamantly believed, and still do, that all couples and mutual assistance groups, MUST sit down and specifically detail how not just members of a marauding horde will be dealt with when they show up your gate, but folks you know, extended family, kind and desperate strangers both with and without anything of value to add to your survival efforts. Without such a written in stone plan, chaos and turmoil will result within your family or group – and fester.

I knew, without a doubt, that my Bobby would not be able to turn away a crying mother holding a hungry child in her arms, an elderly couple desperate for food, or members or our community he had known all of his life an exchanged pleasantries with just prior to the arrival of the apocalypse.

My husband is the strongest man I have ever had the pleasure to know, but he has a servant’s heart that would prompt him to give what he could to those in dire need – and then go without himself so our children and grandchildren would have enough food and water to survive. We need his strength and guidance too much for me to let that happen. When the strongest, most stable, and skilled member of your family or tribe is not functioning at full strength, the entire group will suffer for it and the chances of survival be reduced.

I would find it gut-wrenching to turn them away with nothing, but I don’t think my sweet husband would be able to pull it off, not at all.

Does that make me sound heartless, unchristian witch? Probably, but I am willing to live with that label in order for our children and grandchildren to survive. Giving away a few cans of food, water, or homemade natural medicine to the people at the gate would not help them survive, for more than a day or so.

What is would do, however, is deplete our stockpile of supplies to an extent that our children and grandchildren would go hungry, not have the medicine they could come to need, or enough water to drink when the dry season came during the summer.

It all boils down to priorities, not just for my decision-making thought process, but for the unprepared that will show up at our gate. They all had the same chance to prepare as we did, and chose to go spend their money and time on less essential things.

What if they preppared too, but their home burnt down, along with all of their preps, or some similar scenario beyond their control? Well, I will have both more respect and sympathy for them, but the same end result would occur. The care packages given away, to even unfortunate preppers, will still deplete our stockpiles.

My children and grandchildren will come first. My loved ones inside the survival homesteading retreat “tribe” members, will come first.

Even though this is a cut and dried decision for me, there will be an emotional toll taken when I have to exercise my power to make decisions at our gate. Of that, I have no doubt.

To help keep my conscience clear, I spent a lot of time and money trying to educate the masses about preparedness, do the same with people I care about and the community at large, and give away resource materials, seeds, etc. to encourage them to become more self-reliant. I have done my bit, it is up to them to do theirs.

Being charitable now is easy, the supply of goods in flowing and not finite.

Some preppers, like James Wesley Rawles, advocate putting together a Christian relief or charity package of sorts now,  to hand out in such situations, and not count those supplies among your preps. If you can afford to do this, it is a superb idea, and a loving gesture, to be sure.

But will a day come when you wish you had used your ample funds to stockpile more survival kits for your own family? It just might.

There are a three issues with such a plan that must be discussed in a prepping family or survival group meeting, before bagging up the supplies.

Unexpected Shortages

Will an end come to handing out the relief packages if your own supplies begin to run low because of a failed crop or other situation?

  • Who will determine when your prepping stockpiles have reached a concerning level and no more relief packages can be handed out?
  • How low will your stockpiles have to dip before you call a halt to the charity packages?

Determining Amounts

  • Will you hand out packages based upon the number of people begging, i.e. will a mother with three children tagging along behind her get more than a single man, an elderly woman, or parents with only a single child?
  • Will a person who is obviously too sick or injured to continue on much longer, receive as much aid as a healthy person?
  • Will age be a factor in how supplies are given out or how much goes in each bag?
  • If you know the person is reliant upon prescription medication that is no longer available, will you “waste” a charity bag on them, or give more to the starving children crying and shivering in the arms of their panicked mother?
  • Will the aid be a one time deal, or will people who come back a second, third, or even fourth time, receive another package?
  • How will you know if the person is a repeat begger? It is unrealistic to think the same member of your tribe will be on the gate at all times when the charity packages are being handed out.

OPSEC

Even without cellphones, word will spread that you have ample supplies AND are giving them away at the gate of your survival compound. In just a couple of days, maybe less, you could have hordes of desperate people at your gate first asking, then demanding, and finally, pushing their way inside, to get their share of your stuff.

Will you, can you, shoot the people climbing over your gates, people you may know and with children in the crossfire, if they refuse to stay off your land, after telling them they cannot get any more food and water?

Where will you give out the food, water, and first aid supplies? Having even a few people piled up at your gate will be a distraction that could leave members of your tribe unaware of a looming threat. Pulling members of your surveillance team to stand guard during aid distribution will leave you more vulnerable elsewhere on the retreat or compound. It will also show your hand and give too much information about your numbers and the weapons you have.

Giving out the charity aid packages away from the gate and off of your property will expose the tribe members to even more potential harm and set them up to become a hostage a begger could use to demand more food or worse yet – access to the inside of the compound.

If the person outside the gate has value due to their professional or amateur skills, will you let them in to enhance the overall skill set of your tribe? Who would make this decision and how many extra people could your stockpiles support before they become strained? Types of people of value you might want to consider include: medical professionals, veterinarians, veterans, butchers, hunter, gunsmiths, blacksmiths, mechanics, carpenters, and other types of skilled tradesmen and women who can ply their skills in an off grid world.

Giving away free food and survival kits is a whole lot more complicated and dangerous than engaging in a kind gesture should be…ought to be. But so goes life during the apocalypse.

The safe solution? I am not sure if there really is one, not for either your heart or your body. Whatever you decide, you will be risking emotional heartache and bodily injury – there just might not be a way to give so it doesn’t hurt.

One thing I am sure of though, is not hashing all of this out with your prepping partners, will cause major problems in the long, hard days to come.

Hide Your Food

The desperate good, yet unprepared people and the marauding hordes fleeing from the cities, do not have to see your handing out charity packages to know you have plenty of food around. Before we moved onto our secluded retreat, I knew the very moment any of our small town neighbors put a big juicy steak, some BBQ ribs, or even a hot dog on their outdoor grills.

Smell travels just as easily as sound. You should try to do all of your cooking indoors during a SHTF scenario. Your BBQ grill should not be your primary off the grid cooking option, nor should an open flame in your fire ring ring be where most of your meals are prepared.

If you have to cook meat outdoors, check the wind direction and put extra guards on duty to make sure no one hiking in the woods or walking along the road hugging their aching empty bellies, has caught a whiff of your dinner.

When the presence of strangers, marauding hordes, or beggars grows near your home, skip preparing meat altogether for a few days and keep your livestock closed up in the barn – back water to them by hand in buckets if necessary.

Hide signs of livestock on your property as much as possible. Muffling the sounds of animal noises, or the smell of fresh manure is likely going to prove impossible. So, keep them close and protected and never reveal their numbers visually.

When you have extra dollars to invest in your preps, put the towards strong sheets of metal, wood boards, or cinder blocks that can be quickly placed on top of your existing fence to further shield the inner workings of your survival homesteading retreat from view.

You do not even want people who knew you had livestock before the SHTF, to be sure you have any left now or the number of animals in your barn. Invest in the quietest breeds of chickens, and consider keeping your number of cows low. They are noisy and require a lot of pasture to eat year around.

Dexter cattle, a miniature breed of bovine, require less space to live and feed, and could be a better beef and milk source during a SHTF scenario.

Rabbits will provide meat, are a lot quieter, require very little space to keep, and reproduce rapidly. Build as many ponds as your land will allow and stock them with fish and turtles to eat – you can’t get much quieter and space-confined of a meat source than fish and turtles.

Reduce the Need for Charity Packages

Getting involved in your neighborhood and community now, before SHTF, may vastly reduce the need for charity when things go pear shaped. There will be no way to avoid it, but mitigating the need will make you feel good because you are doing something for your fellow Americans that just might inspire them to become more self-reliant.

  • Start or help expand a community or neighborhood garden.
  • Start a garden along the edge of your property so it can become your charity package when a disaster strikes. This will still alert others that you have so much food that your are willing to share, but will at least not inform them you have any stockpiles of canned good, long-term storage meals, etc. inside your retreat. As far as the desperate people will know, you planted the garden during good times because the soil was good and you had ample seeds and are willing to share it now because you are busy working your main garden and do not want to venture outside of your gates. But, going outside to tend the garden will put your and members of your tribe in danger. Use containers or thick landscaping cloth to keep down weeds as much as possible to avoid going out the perimeter to tend it.
  • You could also plant fruit trees and berry bushes along the road near your home and allow the desperate to pick from them to put a little food into their bellies. Hopefully, they will think they are stealing food from you and not think you have planted extra food as part of an aid package because you have all that you need inside the survival retreat.
  • Connect with local scout and civic groups and give each member some seeds and talk to them about growing their own groceries and the value of being self-reliant – without giving away that you are a prepper.
  • Host free gardening, butchering, and livestock raising workshops for the people in your neighborhood or community. If you live in a right to farm state, keeping backyard chickens, ducks, and meat rabbits should be allowed in your small town, suburb, or city.
  • Show up at your neighbor’s house uninvited with fresh produce from your garden, supplies to make a rainwater collection system if they do not have a pond, creek, or swimming pool to get water from during a long-term disaster. Basically, put yourself out there as a homesteader for free hire, going as far as you can without infringing upon your OPSEC plan.
  • Network with volunteers at your local food bank, church pantry, and similar facilities to donate seeds, dehydrated food from your garden put together in emergency packs to hand out now – anonymously, along with some literature about self-reliance and how to grow your own food, even in small spaces, to save money. You can drop these kits off at night in front of the facilities, due to OPSEC reasons, but you best call first, while concealing your phone number or send an email from an account that does not bare your name, to ask about donations procedures, or the valuable goods will likely get pitched out of food safety concerns.
  • Get involved with your local farmer’ market, this is also a place to educate others about self-reliance, hand out seeds, and dehydrated produce emergency packets.
  • Every Christmas season communities host coat, hat, glove, and scarf drives. Donate warm weather clothes, for both adult and children now, when supplies are unlimited, to be charitable, and not after SHTF when your own family could end up needing warm outerwear during a long-term disaster.
  • Make cloth baby diapers and donate them to groups who accept such items, on a quarterly basis.
  • Donate non-perishables to food pantries now, and not to beggars after the SHTF, to do your part for your fellow man. Those types of places will get hit first by desperate people. This will allow you to help feed the hungry without taking away food and survival supplies for your loved ones or mutual assistance group when you know no more are going to be arriving on store shelves for a long, long time – perhaps forever.

As the old saying goes, “charity begins at home.” How far are you willing to go to protect your family? You may have worked to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself to kill for them, without a second’s hesitation, from the charging horde armed with a rocks, sticks, baseball bats, bows, or guns.

But, are you truly prepared to kill for them, without hesitation, when a group of unarmed neighbors, some of them children, are rushing onto your land and headed right for your garden, your stockpile of preps, or the dwindling water in your creek or pond?

If you did not immediately answer yes, even if it made you wince and feel ashamed, then you are not truly, 100 percent prepared for SHTF or to protect your loved ones. That may sound rude, cruel, or socially unacceptable, but it is true nonetheless.

Seeing others suffer, good people you may have known for a long time, especially when there are children involved, is almost too awful of a scenario to contemplate, but your must, You must think about it, get a vivid visual image of it, role play the heck out of such potential encounters during survival training exercises, and be prepared to deal with it from a survival standpoint, and not how your heart is urging you to.

Disasters have always brought out the best and worst in people. There is absolutely no reason to expect anything different during a nationwide or worldwide SHTF scenario. You probably want to be one of the good guys, I want to be one of the good gals.

That is why I do whatever I can to help others NOW, and not when the survival of my children, grandchildren, husband, parents, nieces, nephews, sibling, great nieces and nephews, and prepping friends, who pull work details at our retreat until they are sweaty, filthy, and sometime a little bit bloody, depends on it.

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About Tara Dodrill

Tara Dodrill
Tara Dodrill is a homesteading and survival journalist and author. She lives on a small ranch with her family in Appalachia. She has been both a host and frequent guest on preparedness radio shows. In addition to the publication of her first book, 'Power Grid Down: How to Prepare, Survive, and Thrive after the Lights go Out', Dodrill also travels to offer prepping tips and hands-on training and survival camps and expos.

23 comments

  1. I live in the central mountains of Puerto Rico and was without power for a very long and frustrating four months. My wife and I prepared for something like this. Part of our roof was torn off but that was taken care of quickly. We have two generators, five scanners, four water filters (to include a Berkey), three solar ovens (all GoSun units), rechargeable batteries, electric and solar battery chargers, six FRS radios, battery operated fans, a Joos solar charger etc. We survived comfortably. Folks around us, not so comfortably. The situation out here is dire and still is for many. Helicopters were bringing in supplies for our town for about two weeks. Lines for those supplies were long. Folks were out in droves when trucks started coming in with supplies. That took some time as the roads were impassable for several weeks which explains the helicopters. I kept harping on my parents for years to prep. They listened and ignored. Not after Hurricane Maria. We had to help them out with water,food and electricity. The saving grace in that came about seven weeks later, my mother and I were talking and she said she was sorry for not having listened tome and that I was right. She thought I was overreacting and exaggerating the need for prepping and she now realizes that I was right all along. My sister and her family were able to keep in communication with us and other family members with the four FRS radios I gave them for Christmas three years ago. Those radios were a hot commodity at the time and stores such as Wal-Mart got wiped out within just a few days. We had no worries since we already had ours. My wife and I also have a large survival pantry so we were never short on food. To say the least, we have helped many people with items and those that thought we were crazy for prepping don’t think that anymore. Great article,keep up the good work.

    • Excellent article. We are well prepared for what is coming. It’s not “if”. it’s “when”.
      For those who actually believe that the economy is going straight up, the top 25 banks in America have $14 Trillion in assets and $222 Trillion in very fragile “off ledger” investments (Derivatives). How do they cover $222 Trillion with $14 Trillion? Answer: They freeze your account(s) and seize your assets. It’s called a “Bail In” and is legal under the “Consumer Protection and Wall Street Reform Act of 2010” Yep, under this act you went from “depositor” to “uninsured creditor” and the bank actually owns whatever you have on deposit (checking, savings, CD) and whatever you have in a Safe Deposit Box/Drawer.
      Also, check out what a “recalcitrant” is and how it applies to you under the Foreign Account Transaction Compliance Act (FATCA). Don’t have a foreign account? Doesn’t matter that you don’t. Under FATCA, if you resist the government in any manner, the government can label you a “Recalcitrant”, seize ALL of your property and put you in prison without any formal procedures and keep you there for life.

      • Meathead,

        I am glad you liked the article! Very sound advice on the financial laws front, I hope all of our Survival Sullivan readers dig into the FATCA information and learn more about it. The fact that a government staffer will be able to determine whether the information you are willing to reveal about your bank account and financial holdings is “reasonable” or not, sends chills up my spine! Hide your preps too folks, hide them well. If the government comes calling during a SHTF scenario, they could be confiscated or “requisitioned” for the so-called greater good!

    • Koa,

      Thank you for the compliment on the article. It sound like you are your family have really been through it – they sure must be glad you are a prepper about now! Four months is an extremely long time to live without power, your survival skills and preps were truly put to the test more than any other prepper pal or professional expert I know! What you have learned through the process will definitely give you a strong leg up during a long-term SHTF scenario. Hopefully your loved ones are still eagerly asking you for more tips, purchasing suggestions, and a reading list to better educate themselves. Those radios are awesome, we got our loved ones a compatible set for Christmas a few years ago. Many of them were not overly excited at the time, but one day they will be glad they have them! Best of luck to you, I hope the hard times are now, or will soon, be over. Please keep us all updated on the restoration to normal process there and share any “wish I had known…” tips you have after living through all of that, with our Survival Sullivan community!

  2. Good aricle. We have orders in place as well.
    Encouraging to here Koa’s experience.
    We live DFW Texas and provided relief aid sent to Houston.

    • Thank you Badger. Yes, Koa’s experience should be copy, pasted, printed, and then shared with every non-prepping loved one and friend…before it is too late for them. The more folks around you who are prepared, the better of you will be when the SHTF. Anything we can do now to decrease the number of desperate and panicked people in our neighborhoods or communities, will help keep the number of beggers at our gates who could turn violent, to a minimum. I do not want to turn away starving, sick, and cold people that I know, kind strangers, or especially children, but I will for the sake of saving my own. Kudos to you for the loving gesture of helping those who were so in need in Houston, the historic flooding still has to be taking a toll on the people and the economy.

  3. Tara, thank You – QMAMBO13

  4. We have a few extra packages of food to give away that we will quickly take to a church about two miles away. When someone asks, we will tell them that we took our extras to the church, so that’s where they need to go.

    • If the situation becomes desperate, nobody will care about what you did with your “extra” supplies. They won’t be asking.

    • Thank you Badger. Yes, Koa’s experience should be copy, pasted, printed, and then shared with every non-prepping loved one and friend…before it is too late for them. The more folks around you who are prepared, the better of you will be when the SHTF. Anything we can do now to decrease the number of desperate and panicked people in our neighborhoods or communities, will help keep the number of beggers at our gates who could turn violent, to a minimum. I do not want to turn away starving, sick, and cold people that I know, kind strangers, or especially children, but I will for the sake of saving my own. Kudos to you for the loving gesture of helping those who were so in need in Houston, the historic flooding still has to be taking a toll on the people and the economy.

  5. Don’t forget the Biblical story of the flood…Noah with his family was enclosed in the ark for a whole week before the rains, etc. came. When people outside the ark realized that there lack of preparation (remember Noah talked to them for 120 years about what was coming to the sounds of their ridicule) Noah did not open the door of the ark and let them in. The time to prepare was passed and they perished. I think, regardless of your reliance on the Bible that there is a principle here.

    • Iorllrn,

      The reference to Noah was an absolutely perfect example. I wish that I had thought to use it in the arc. There is a principle there, to be sure and one that all of us who live as Christians must come to understand before the SHTF. Will Noah’s actions make us sleep better at night after turning away hungry children and people we have known all of our lives, maybe…a little bit. Turning people away will be anguishing, but there will be no other choice if you want yourself and your loved ones to survive. Noah, more than anyone else, knew what the consequences of his decision not to open up the arc would be. Be like Noah, both now, when there is time to educate others even if they relentlessly mock your efforts, and later, when the time to prep has surely passed.

  6. Thank you for putting in the obvious time and effort it took to write this.

    The most irritating thing about this subject is our government, media and yes, many of our churches have indoctrinated folks into believing that they have a RIGHT to walk on to your property and take whatever they think they need in order to survive.

    Those care packages I have seen more than a few folks talk about preparing? My first reaction to the idea was that it is a perfect way to set yourself up as a target and a way to GUARANTEE you will be overrun by hordes of hungry people.

    I would not even put it past the local mayor to show up at your gates with the Police Chief and all his officers in tow to take possession of your stores ‘for your own good, ‘to maintain order for the duration of the emergency,’ and to ‘be fair to others in the community.’ What will you do then? Folks piling up ammunition and then bragging about it do nothing but put themselves on others’ maps as ‘be sure to stop here on the way out of town’ points, seems to me.

    Nah, the more I think about it the more convinced I am that a low profile and lack of visibility is at least as important as piling up stuff you will need.

    Again, thanks for a thought provoking article.

    Tim

    • Tim is exactly right. People have been conditioned to believe everything should be “fair”, but only when somebody else is paying the freight.

      • Hildegard,

        You both are exactly right. As a former public school educator, former public official, and the resident of a poor rural county, I have seen that mindset ingrain itself completely in an entire generation of Americans. The safe space and coddling have to stop, as well. Growing up in that type of atmosphere is going to cripple the younger generation. Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child – snowflakes will find life after the SHTF more painful than anyone else, but only for a little while, because they and their, “fair” loving parents who were so afraid of darlings being hurt by words, will not last long.

    • Tim,

      Thank you very much! I agree with thought process. In all of my favorite fiction based on facts survival books, One Second After and the Lights Out Saga being among them, confiscation, or attempted confiscation happened in one way or another, food, water, guns, and worst of all…rights. A low profile is the only true way of trying to make yourself not be a target. It took us almost three years to find a survival homesteading retreat property to help us do just that. My efforts to try to educate others in the community about preparedness now did create some exposure, but I guess those continued efforts won out after a battle with my conscious. I do what I can until the time comes that I WILL do what I must to make sure my family survives.

  7. A Voice crying in the Wilderness

    A link to how the DHS plans to deal with you if you choose to resist. This will help you understand how the Government thinks about you.
    https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2013/02/20/no-more-hesitation-homeland-security-and-police-dept-request-targets-for-shooting-practice-to-help-desensitize-law-enforcement-to-shooting-average-americans/
    These are called ” No More Hesitation Targets”

    • VCitW,

      Thank you for the link share. I wrote a lot of straight news articles about the stocking of enormous amounts of ammo and how specific groups of Americans were being officially classified as “terrorists” by the Obama era DHS. Unfortunately, I was preaching to the choir. Those who drank the liberal KoolAid deemed anything negative written about the goings on at the White House then, even when based in pure proven fact, had to just be right wing nonsense. Then, now, or in the future, no matter who is sitting inside the Oval Office, the government, I count them as the unprepared, will be a force we all have to reckon with post-SHTF.

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