Why Doesn’t Technology Make It Easier To Help People?

Emailing a gift card is just one way that technology makes helping people in need easier. More stores could make it much easier.

Someone came to the church office yesterday with a varied list of pressing needs: food, socks, a new prepaid phone. All of those things are at Target. So I bought an email gift card to print in my office and send with him to the store to get the things he needed. I’d never done that before.

Stocking up on gift cards to grocery stores is a simple way for a church to respond to the needs of people who drop by during the week as well as those who worship there on Sunday. But it often happens that a person’s immediate physical needs go beyond groceries, and so cards for stores like Target are useful too. I learned yesterday that you can buy those online and print them in your office if you haven’t got any (note: it took about 10 minutes for the email to arrive).

It is usually so much more difficult than this to help people with these kinds of needs. The list of things we’ve struggled to help people with includes a bill for a storage facility, a night at a hotel, utility bills, and medical costs. Even when we have funds designated for those kinds of things, we’re often frustrated–the hotel manager requires a signature in person; the person doesn’t have the actual bill; the storage facility is 50 miles away and won’t take payment over the phone.

There’s  got to be a way that the digital technology housed in many church offices can quickly help with more concrete needs. Any ideas?