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Poor folks need more than turkey and candy canes

November 6th, 2013 | Posted by Carey Fuller in Homelessness

Paper plate





Ever notice how the poor are suddenly the focus of more attention around the holidays? What about the rest of the year? Does Christian charity only happen on Christmas and what about the atheists? Does not having a belief system make them any less caring than those who do? Does your political affiliation make a difference in reducing poverty anywhere?  Seems to me that beliefs either personal or political, have nothing to do with showing compassion all year round but I have noticed that as soon as the holidays come around, all of a sudden it’s popular to be considerate.

Let’s face it, nobody wants to see just how widespread poverty has become in this country much less be in poverty yet the more we ignore it, the less gets done about it and the problem  will continue to be a problem. Sure, you can pass a farm bill with massive cuts to food stamps and you can take away funding for public housing thinking (unrealistically) that such measures will push people into jobs and that sounds great on paper but the reality is that there aren’t enough living wage jobs to go around neither is affordable housing otherwise why are there so many people living out of their cars, under bridges or couch surfing on other people’s couches? Quite a few people who work can’t afford to keep a roof over their heads or enough food on the table no matter what they do and for those of you quick to point the finger at “individual responsibility”, not everyone who is homeless is a drug addict or mentally ill.

And how about those folks on the brink of losing their homes because of all those miraculous jobs that some people think are out there? If all their earnings go to rent, utilities and childcare, there is nothing left over to buy groceries with and food banks can only give out so much because I know from personal experience that if you are homeless, you can only go to a food bank once a week but if you’re housed, you can only come in once a month. If you are living out of your car or a backpack, you can only take things that don’t require refrigeration, cooking or a lot of storage space.

Then comes the holiday season and all of a sudden, here comes the media and would be do-gooders to come take care of the poor! This is not to say that local orgs or agencies aren’t doing anything every other day of the year, it’s just that needy folks need more than a turkey dinner and a candy cane! If you really want to help the less fortunate, you don’t have to wait for the holidays. All you have to do is get involved with local organizations already involved with services like clothing banks or food pantries. Maybe there’s a volunteer group that visits the elderly to help them with housework or yardwork and if these services don’t exist, don’t be afraid to create them!

Sometimes the most a person can do is put together care packs. Basically this is a large resealable plastic bag filled with things like a pair of warm socks, travel sized toiletries, ready to eat foods, a bottle of water, hand wipes or even a $5 fast food gift card to get something hot to drink or eat. Maybe there’s a community hall or senior center with a kitchen that you can host community dinners or breakfasts in that are open to the public or bring food items to those who can’t get out. A lot of times I carry things like extra socks, hats, coats, hand warmers or rain ponchos in the back of my car to give to local homeless folks who need.

Oh and please don’t assume that what you read here on this blog is in any way shape or form the only thing I or you can do to make your community a better place to live in because there is a lot to do when it comes to helping your fellow man, woman and child. There is still the matter of educating people on the facts of poverty and that includes policy makers and voters. One person can’t do everything but maybe everybody can do something!

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One Response

  • “The child poverty rate increased between 2010 and 2011; 23 percent of children are now living in households with incomes below the poverty line , which is about $22,000 for a family of four — it’s a very low bar. And that represents about 16.4 million children in the country, about 3 million more than there were in 2005. We also know that the percent of children whose parents lack secure employment is higher now pre-recession; one out of three children don’t have a parent in the household who has full-time, year-round work, which is bad news for income, certainly, but it also has implications for the kinds of benefits that are available (like health care benefits especially) from a full-time job … 40 percent of kids in the U.S. in 2011 live in households where housing was simply costing too much. Economists estimate spending more than about 30 percent on income on housing — that’s too much. For four out of 10 kids in the U.S., that’s a reality, which has big impacts on overall household spending.

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