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It was the Roman author Terence who first wrote, "Charity begins at home." More than two thousand years later, this is especially true in St. Louis. We are a community that appreciates and supports public radio. We are also a national leader in giving to our United Way. Perhaps no one has embodied the spirit of local generosity better than the philanthropist Desmond Lee, who died last month.
Although charity may begin at home, it cannot end here. In the weeks since the devastating earthquake in Haiti, St. Louisans have responded with admirable generosity. They have recognized that this impoverished nation doesn't have the resources to handle this crisis on its own and have contributed both time and money.
I have been to Haiti several times and have observed the desperate living conditions first hand. Even in the best of times, when there are no hurricanes or earthquakes, the poverty is far worse than what one finds anywhere in America. Long after the media have stopped covering the most recent earthquake and its aftermath, the need in Haiti will still be immense.
Charity doesn't end at home and it also shouldn't end when TV crews pack up their equipment and leave. St. Louisans owe it to their fellow human beings in Haiti not to abandon them. If they choose to provide this support through charities based in St. Louis in which they have confidence, all the better.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Tom Schlafly is an attorney in St. Louis.