A gift to satisfy an essential part of the soul

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, that time of year
when most Americans gain two or three pounds by indulging in candy,
cake and other delicacies. However, some families will not have
much food during the holidays or during the rest of the year.
The holiday season is rapidly approaching, that time of year when most Americans gain two or three pounds by indulging in candy, cake and other delicacies. However, some families will not have much food during the holidays or during the rest of the year.

Some startling figures about hunger in the richest country in the world were just disclosed and were the subject of several articles in the Free Lance.

Without going into statistics, the fact is that many local families, including the elderly and children, are often doing without enough food to sustain their health.

In the spirit of generosity from Thanksgiving through Christmas, we remember those members of our community and donate food or money to local charities to help out. Community Pantry comes to mind, as do Marley Holte’s community dinners at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and many other programs conducted through agencies or churches. It is laudable and we applaud those who sponsor or support such programs.

But having a decent meal on the fourth Thursday of November of the 25th of December accounts for only two days of the year and does not take into account the other 363.

Some people recognize that and always do what they can according to their resources and own needs. Others – perhaps most of us – belatedly give what we can when we are reminded of it.

Some will never give anything to the hungry. They have their rationales for withholding help.

Most of us realize that circumstances sometimes prevent family heads from providing the proper nourishment for their children. We know that a helping hand when it is needed can pull a family through a bad time, when it may have enough money to pay the rent or utilities or to obtain sufficient food for the month, but not all three.

Agencies that try to provide some food throughout the year are strained to capacity now, and with many seasonal workers out of work are hard put to do as much as they would like to do.

We can help. Most of us can afford something and that something means a lot to a family with nothing. Some food stores have programs in which one can round off one’s bill to the next dollar with the change being used for supplemental food. If your bill is $34.67, for instance, and you contribute 33 cents that you would receive in change from $35, it doesn’t look like much.

But add to it the 41 cents that the shopper just ahead of you has left, and the 12 cents that the person behind you will give, and the pennies, dimes and quarters that other shoppers will donate, and you realize that some families are going to eat better next week than they did the previous week.

You may donate money directly to the agencies that gladly take on the job of addressing hunger. You also may know of a family in your neighborhood that is in need, and take it a bag of groceries. Talk to the manager of the food store where you shop, and leave a check of any amount for supplementing the purchases of those families that are hard-pressed.

A 99-cent package of frankfurters or a two-pound sack of beans, or even a can of corn beyond what they can afford is a great gift to people who live intimately with hunger.

The Free Lance is among many local businesses that has put food collection barrels in its lobby. Such items as canned foods, pasta and other non-perishables are solicited for the Second Harvest Food Bank. Learn more about its program by calling 634-0170 or by typing in www.thefoodbank.org on the Internet.

Few people, including those who never donate to nutrition programs, would turn away a hungry person who knocked at their door. Who would be so mean-spirited to tell malnourished children or the elderly that they did not deserve a decent meal? But they are out there even if we do not see them, and their need is sharp and unrelenting.

When you give, give what you can and with grace. You may never be in desperate need of a meal yourself, but your gift to the hungry will satisfy something essential deep in your soul.

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