Option 1) No Charity - Take Care of Your Own
"But if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." -- 1 Timothy 5:8 (HCSB)
Those of the "No Charity" school point out that it is a matter of security. You don't want your home or retreat to be overrun by refugees or looters, which is exactly what would happen once word gets out that you plenty of food and other stuff. Better to act like you are just another one of the starving masses, with nothing worth taking.
Many of the "No Charity" folks also point out that you really don't have any excess to give out to hose in need. In truth, you don't know how long the collapse will be, or what your future needs will be. Your first priority must be your family/group, and you may actually end up needing that "excess" that you gave away.
Option 2) Be Charitable - Help Those in Need
"Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share" -- 1 Timothy 6:18
"But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?" -- 1 John 3:17
Those of the "Be Charitable" school point to a multitude of passages where the Bible teaches us, commands us, to be charitable and generous towards others, especially those in need - the poor, the homeless, and so forth. Furthermore, they say that being charitable can be done safely without endangering your family, or taking an unreasonable risk of running out of food and supplies too soon. This is particularly true if you plan ahead to be charitable, and know exactly how much you can give, to whom you will give, and how you will do so.
Both schools of thought on post-collapse charity make valid points. The Bible does instruct us that we are first and foremost responsible for taking care of our own. The Bible also instructs us that we are to be charitable and generous to others in need - even strangers. It is, in my opinion, a matter of balance. We must strive to rise to God's standards and do both to the best of our ability. But, how do we balance the needs of our family with the needs of strangers? This balance will be made especially difficult in the dire and unpredictable nature of a collapse.
Plan Ahead for Charity
The key is to plan ahead. You won't be able to figure out the best balance after-the-fact, when fear and other emotions will run wild.
In my planning, I am not expecting massive hordes from the cities (see my myth of the golden horde article). Most people will die in the cities, waiting (and looting & rioting) for the government to show up to help them (learned helplessness). Or they will die while trying to escape the city. Frankly, I don't expect the vast majority to make it 20 miles out of the city before dying or being killed.* A few city folks will make it out, of course, but not the hordes of most preppers' nightmares.For similar reasons, I don't expect far flung relatives to show up at my door. My cousin and his family, who live in Chicago, will never make it to my home in North Carolina during a collapse, even if they wanted to come here.
Instead, I expect we will be dealing with local folks (friends, neighbors, acquaintances) needing help, and maybe the occasional refugee. Those folks can be dangerous, since desperate people do desperate things, and we should be ready to deal with that danger. However, I think most will simply be pitiful.
Ideas For Providing Charity
Church-based Charity - A church I attended many years ago had a small room where they stored old coats & jackets, blankets, canned and dried food, baby supplies, and other similar things. These were then given to the homeless or other people in need that would show up at the church from time-to-time asking for help. Your church could do something similar - storing supplies that could be distributed to needy folks in an emergency. Worried about break-ins or looters showing up at the church? Your church could come up with a plan to provide security at the church during a crisis. An added benefit of this is the church would then be able to act as a headquarters and communications hub for the entire congregation, or even as a temporary shelter for members.
Cache-based Charity - An idea I heard recently from Viking Preparedness (Pastor Joe Fox), is to set up a number of caches a couple of miles away from your home or retreat. When refuges show up, give them a map to the cache, along with a warning that you have no more supplies to share and will treat them as looters if they show up at your home a second time.With some supplies, your threat, and a couple of miles distance from your home, the refuges will likely continue onward rather than continuing to bother you.
Supplies-for-Work - When a neighbor shows up at your place needing food or other supplies, offer them a job! "Split this wood, and I'll give you a bag of food." "Spend two hours weeding my garden, and I'll give you a bottle of aspirin." Or whatever. There will be lots of projects on your homestead needing to be done. Trading supplies for work will be of benefit to both parties. You might even be able to hire the right refuge or two to work on your homestead and help with security in exchange for room and board. Of course, be careful who you hire on, but not all refugees are bad guys.
Give-a-Bag / Don't Come Back - Fill up a number of tote bags with some food, a couple of bottles of water, some matches, and a small first aid kit (the kind you can get at Wal-mart for a buck in the travel-size rack), and maybe even a Gospel of John. When refuges show up, give them a bag with a warning that you don't have much, and will not give them any more under any circumstances. Let them know you're armed and vigilant, and if they come back, you'll be forced to treat them as looters.
A Final Note
Remember, we're talking about helping needy neighbors and true refugees, not gangs of armed thugs trying to take your stuff. You need to have a security plan in place to deal with looters and bandits with extreme prejudice. But neighbors and refugees you can deal with generously but firmly.
* Do you really expect those folks who can't get around Wal-mart without an electric shopping cart to be able to hike out to your homestead? Most people are fat, unhealthy, out-of-shape, and totally unprepared to bug-out. Besides, by the time they realize that they need to get out, gas will be completely gone and the roads and Interstates will be undrivable parking lots.