December 17 & 19, 2010; Source: New York Times | A sign of the times? That’s the question that pops to mind reading a half-page diatribe about unwanted charity solicitations in a Sunday New York Times feature called “Complaint Box,” and subtitled “Charity Calls.”

Olga Hughes, identified as a long-time resident of New York City’s Upper West Side, writes about how she’s done “everything I can to eliminate the unwanted” charity solicitations, including repeated requests to be removed from mailing lists of nonprofits she doesn’t support and as well as asking those she does to limit their mailings. But, as she notes, the effort is “all in vain. My mailbox remains full and so does my waste bin.”

In a companion piece, Christina Kelly, a New Jersey-based writer and blogger, gripes about the unwanted knocks at the door from charities seeking cash as well as telephone pitches she can do without. “I hate to be mean,” she says. “Nor am I unsympathetic to the woes of my fellow human beings . . . But the proliferation of nonprofit groups asking for help can get downright annoying.”

These two complaints were first posted online on the Times‘ website last Friday. They appear again in the Sunday print edition, along with comments from readers. While several people share the writers’ annoyance, one comment is from the executive director of a nonprofit whose organization is “trying to do more online fundraising that is less invasive and wasteful of resources.”

Then there’s a comment from “Mike” who writes that people can dismiss charity appeals only if they are confident they are already doing enough. But he adds, “That’s the same perspective that Scrooge had when he asked if there were not still prisons and workhouses.”—Bruce Trachtenberg