Editorials

Tis the season of taking

Alissa Jackson pleaded guilty to two counts of theft after claiming she was dying of cancer and accepting an estimated $35,000, meals and a minivan donated on her behalf. She’ll be sentenced in a St. Clair County court next month.
Alissa Jackson pleaded guilty to two counts of theft after claiming she was dying of cancer and accepting an estimated $35,000, meals and a minivan donated on her behalf. She’ll be sentenced in a St. Clair County court next month. File/BND

During this season of giving, the news gives us two unfathomable stories about people more interested in taking.

We’ll start with Alissa Jackson, 32, the Belleville mother of five who told friends she was dying from ovarian cancer.

It’s a sad story, indeed. It’s also bogus. Jackson never had cancer. In the meantime, she netted about $35,000 in donated money, plus meals and a minivan.

Almost as sorry as her story is the pathetic reason she gave supporters for making it up: “she did not have any friends and she liked being part of something.”

Might we suggest, Ms. Jackson, that the next time you’re moved to join a cause you believe to be bigger than yourself (and we doubt that cause exists) you ply your fund-raising skills on behalf of someone who is actually suffering the horrible effects of cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 40 percent of all men and women will be diagnosed during their lifetime, so finding somebody who really needs the help shouldn’t be hard.

On the other hand, we all know somebody touched by cancer. Your shallow willingness to leverage the misery of our friends and family for your own selfish benefit isn’t the kind of help we need.

Next in our hall of holiday shame is Jakob Bottoms, who stands accused of making a mockery of the Boys Scouts of America oath. You know, the one about “helping others at all times” and keeping “morally straight?”

Police say Bottoms, a 31-year-old Madison County man, went door to door with an official-looking popcorn order form, presumably to raise money for the local troop. He even had a fully-uniformed Boy Scout-aged child in tow to make his ruse all the more believable.

Conveniently, though, Bottoms accepted only cash up front, as well as checks made out to him personally, police say. Of course, no popcorn was ever delivered.

Bottoms has been charged with three counts of theft, while Jackson has already been tried and convicted. She’ll be sentenced next month.

But we can’t help but wonder where people like this find the temerity? Taking advantage of of people’s kind spirits or, worse, the real tragedies of others, falls into a special class of rotten.

If they do it to find friends, as Jackson suggested, they are going about it in all the wrong ways.

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