I will preface this with that not all groups have these issues. Some never see it at all. It depends on your group
[Please note I'm not really talking about the lawnmower girl, but the more extreme cases]
What purpose does telling a list of 2-6k people (depending on where you live, mine's just under 3k), 99.99% of them strangers, about your layoff/single parent/health issues serve?
[I am also not stating that all of these are not true. It is likely a portion of them are, but people are greedy when it comes to free stuff...]
Many people include these stories so that they will be considered "first", over random other people who have asked for the same thing. The most common items asked for on Freecycle are toys and clothes for young children. These are also the most common items that include a tale of financial woe. Youngin' Items also have a very high resale rate. Some requests are extremely vague "I'm expecting soon and found out that I still need some stuff - I'll take anything!" Erm...What exactly do you need?
I vaguely recall an incident years ago when a member gave a "mother in need" a bunch of childrens items. She was very surprised to see everything listed on a Garage Sale list the next day by the same member. It wasn't pretty.
The ideal is that an item is given without strings. However those strings work both ways. To tug someone's heart strings to make them consider your post above all others is disheartening to everyone. People instinctively try to choose to give an item to someone who they believe needs it most. That is what people try to prey on. Then mods have to tell the giver that they'd given someone a gift, no strings attached, but the giver is upset that they were swindled, and ultimately loses faith in Freecycle and the group loses a participating member.
Keep in mind the list is there to keep useful items out of landfills, not to act as a charity to those in need. People don't join to listen to tales of woe. They join to get rid of useful things and hopefully receive useful things as well.
Arranging for people to come get your items can be tedious. It's much easier just to dump it off at Goodwill and assume that everything makes it out onto the floor instead of in the dumpster. People just want to read what's there, post what they have, and try to keep it as simple as possible. Wading through tales of woe is hard - especially when it hits close to home. Money is tight -everywhere-.
Some statistics I dug up from a couple months ago (before we started editing) - during a 10 day period we had 158 posts: 48 Offers, 110 Wanteds, and 23 of those 110 included a story of some sort beyond mere facts ie: between jobs, laid off, using the word desperate, single parent, medical issue that does not relate to the item requested. 22 of that 23 utilized financial reasons in their request. 17 of those were for something child-related, 2 were for a car, the rest for furniture or adult clothes.
Would you want to be on a list where you received at least 2 posts a day begging for items? That's why we're cynical.