This hardly seems right:

Charities that help the needy in Barrie, Ont., have been forbidden from using Canada’s Live 8 concert to gather donations or raise funds.

Live 8 organizers told the Canadian Press this week that allowing the city’s relief organizations to participate would “dilute the focus” of the event.

“That decision came right from Sir Bob Geldof, himself,” Live 8 spokesperson Katherine Holmes told the news agency.

Dilute the focus? Poverty is poverty – no matter where it occurs! How could Geldof possibly think that banning local charities from receiving aid like food bank donations would dilute the focus?

I’m stunned.

“It’s a free concert and we had hoped that we could get permission to run a food drive,” Paula King, the head of the Elizabeth Fry Society, said. “We figured this would be the ideal time and spot to raise awareness about poverty in Barrie.”

As well as running a shelter for homeless women, King’s organization also hands out food to the city’s hungry. The society initially proposed the idea of a food drive several weeks ago, finally getting word on Tuesday from Live 8’s leaders that it would not be allowed to take part.

“We had everything in place,” said King. “We had volunteers, we had trucks, we had boxes, all we needed was permission to go.”

The purpose of the Live 8 concerts is to spur G8 leaders to rally around a more aggressive policy towards eliminating poverty in Africa and that certainly is desperately needed. But, how could Geldof and the organizers deny aid to those in communities that are hosting the concerts? That’s just unthinkable. It’s as if he assumes that concert goers are only able to focus on one thing at a time ie. if they are distracted by bringing a can of food to the concert, somehow they’ll totally forget the mission of the concert itself. How can this possibly be justified?

Here’s how:

Holmes [Live 8 spokesperson] says, unlike the original Live Aid concerts 20 years ago, this weekend’s event is about bringing attention to the plight of Africa, not raising funds.

“It’s about raising awareness for global poverty,” she said. “Mr. Geldof said it best: ‘It’s about opening your minds, not your wallets.”‘

GLOBAL poverty.

The charities in Barrie, Ontario were not suggesting that food donations be made in exchange for entry to the concert, which has free admission. They simply wanted to use the venue to help their city’s poor. Aren’t they part of the global community?

I’m truly flabbergasted by this news. It’s a sad day when people are told that their community’s poor as undeserving simply because the concert organizers are worried their political agenda will be muddied. Mr Geldof – have some faith in the citizens of the world who support your efforts to be able to understand your mission while, at the same time, helping out their neighbours.

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