I know this isn’t a news flash to anyone here, but when the economy goes bad, the people who suffer first and most are those who didn’t have much to start with. The Birmingham News has a feature today detailing shortages and financial struggles at food banks here in town and around the country. Those come at the same time we all face increasing costs for food, gasoline, utilities, health care. More and more people are finding it impossible to make the proverbial ends meet, and they are turning to food banks and other social service agencies to help them feed their families.
One thing the article doesn’t mention: summer will be here before we know it. That means parents who are already struggling will have to find a way to feed kids who qualify for free or reduced-cost breakfasts and lunches during the school year. It’s also the time of year when donations to local agencies and congregations are typically low. We tend to focus more on others in need around the holidays, but poverty doesn’t end on January 1.
So — next time you go to the grocery store, pick up a few extra non-perishable food items if you can. Save them till you have a nice-sized pile and then take them to your service agency of choice. Have your kids outgrown clothes that are still in good shape? Have you, perhaps, done the same…? Or maybe that New Year’s resolution paid off, and you have some things that are too big. Pack those up and take them with you.
My local favorites are Greater Birmingham Ministries and Urban Ministry, but there are many others that do great work with very limited resources. Feel free to list yours in the comments, with links/contact information if possible. They don’t have to be local; in fact, it would be great to have a comprehensive list. You never know who might see it and be inspired to give.
Oh, and remember that gifts of any size are much appreciated. Small or large, they add up when we all do what we can.
Here endeth the public service announcement.