By contributor Danee Riggs
So, you’ve given to Hurricane Katrina victims and/or donated finances and supplies to our Haitian and Japanese brothers and sisters. This may not have been easy for you as many folks are going through because of the economic depression. Still you gave and that is to be commended.
The need for help, assistance and support is NOT only synonymous with natural disasters and catastrophic events. The need exists every single day- for every day families.
When I first volunteered with Philabundance, we were shown a video that made real the dilemma that many working families face; buy food and clothing or pay the light, water, and heating bills? We’ve all heard stories of our parents or someone we know whose parents went to bed hungry at night so that their children would not. Again, we are not simply speaking about our homeless brothers and sisters (who also need our help!) but families whose parents work day in and day out yet still cannot meet basic needs- without assistance.
That’s where we come in. Organizations like Philabundace do great work in the greater Philadelphia area. But maybe you are not local or you don’t have time to volunteer. You don’t have to look that hard in your surrounding areas to discover need. Maybe it’s the single mother down the street with three children and working two jobs. It could be the father supporting his children the best that he can but could use a hand.
“Well”, you say “closed mouths don’t get fed” because they didn’t outright ask for your support. Just think about it in terms of yourself; if you’ve worked all of your adult life (and maybe part of your childhood, like I did) and never asked anyone for a ‘handout’, would your pride be so easy to part with simply because the need has arisen? If we are being honest with ourselves, we know that it wouldn’t be easy at all.
So, start the conversation; Hey girl, I’ve got some nice dresses that I can’t even get into anymore but they would look great on you!” Or “Hey John, my son is a couple years older than your son, right? Well we were going through his closet and found all of these cool spider man (feel free to insert cooler, more relevant superheroes here 🙂 outfits that he can’t even fit any more. You think Justin would be interested?” Or how about – and this one worked for me, “Hey neighbor, Ryan Nicole begged for these cans of ravioli while we were shopping simply because they had SpongeBob on the can. Girl, I let her try them and she won’t touch another one! Do your kids eat ravioli?” Mission accomplished. Someone that I knew could use a little help got it and I don’t feel guilty about wasting food (one of the banes of my existence!)
There are many ways to help people in your own backyard without stripping away pride, making you feel good at the same time. And that’s ok, you should feel good. Keep giving to and volunteering for the cancer funds, the March of Dimes, St. Judes, Philabundance, the local women’s shelters and salvation army drop offs. But also be on the lookout for needs closer to home. Trust me, in this time of economic stress you won’t have to look very far. Maybe we can make helping and supporting each other second nature and not merely a result of Mother Nature.
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