Sunday night I checked out this ABC show “Oprah’s Big Give” that had been getting a lot of attention lately. Seems that the show’s premise is simple – two teams are given tasks each week to donate X amount of money, and at the end of the episode someone get’s kicked off for not pulling their weight/making bad decisions. Sounds like any other reality show, nothing groundbreaking there. The only thing different is that Oprah is involved and as usual, everything she does is designed to make people feel better about themselves. This is not necessarily a bad thing; I think Oprah does a TON of good around the world with her philanthropic activities and such. But this show, “Big Give”, is a big joke…and here is why.
Sunday’s episode involved two teams trying to give money/items to two different schools. One school was getting a new playground, which was fantastic. The kids were playing on cement and had a metal bar to swing on – that’s all. It was an incredibly depressing. So the teams were putting together info for an entirely new playground, which all the kids benefit from, whether they are in this year’s class or a class 10 years from now – it’s a long-term investment in kids that need it most. Fantastic use of money, right? Right. This task was really great. It was the other one that I had a problem with.
The other team was to provide a Christmas for the kids in the school. So you know what they did? They went out and bought every piece of plastic toy in the store to hand out to these kids who had never had a good Christmas before. The teachers were crying about how the kids always “go without” and how this year would be great now that they are getting presents. Could someone please explain to me how getting a plastic toy changes a kids life for any length of time? I just don’t get it…I mean, my wife and I donate presents every year to the Toy Drive put on by the firemen in our city…but I am not Oprah with a television-size budget, able to make a REAL difference in these kids lives. A toy is not going to change a child’s place in life. A playground? Absolutely. A Matchbox car? Not so much. You would think that Oprah would know better than to promote handing out toys instead of something worthwhile. This task was designed to make the “givers” feel good about themselves and that was it…while these kids get a toy that they will probably stop playing with in a week or two. Here are a few things they could have done with that money to really help these kids:
- Provide cleaner classrooms
- Set up nutrition programs
- Build a new playground
- Buy new textbooks
- Hire more teachers
- Send the kids on field trips
I could go on and on with this…but watching the show was sad because if Oprah thinks that giving a toy to a kid equates giving them hope (which one of the team members actually said out loud) then we are in some deep trouble. Only in a materialistic society could a plastic dinosaur equal hope in someone’s mind. Seems rather demeaning to me, and she should know better.
I am all for helping kids…if anything we should be spending a ton more money than we do on things like health care and education for the kids around the world. But for a television show with Oprah’s name on it, last night’s episode was incredibly disappointing and disheartening. A one-time Christmas present does not change lives; with the kind of money that was spent on that show you really could have changed lives. Oprah, I thought you you of all people could come up with something better to help out some poor kids other than plastic crap that does nothing for their self-esteem, their education, or their community.
What a joke.