As more and more “extra” personal funds are being diverted to pay for mortgages, gasoline, food and entertainment; there is less and less available for charity. This is the report I am receiving from numerous places scattered around the country. This alarming trend must be abated for the sake of those suffering in situations they cannot deal with. A difficult as times may get, economically; we must never lose the fervor which has sparked charities in this country for decades.
At the bottom of the economic ladder are many suffering families. The needs piling up among those who are trying to scrape by making minimum wage or attempting to live off of Social Security alone are staggering. In the ultra poor areas, disease, heart attacks, strokes and stress related disorders of all types are exploding. The corresponding medical bills are staggering. Crime is dramatically increasing as desperate people are resorting to desperate measures to find the money to feed their families.
I am very aware of the problems with drugs and other addictions that run rampant in poor areas, for I have written about them here. But, I am also aware of the desperate condition many families are getting into. They have no hope, no way out and no one to help them. Countless small charities have shut their doors in the past few months. They cannot find supplies and in some cases volunteers to help. Food banks have little food and that which they have has to purchased at very high prices.
If a community outreach center tries to provide a box of food per week for a family to help bridge the gap and keep them from resorting to crime or eating trash out of bins; the cost of the food in that box would conservatively be at least $50. If the center tries to help 100 families per week on average; that means they need $5,000 of food supplies per week to fill the boxes. This translates into over $20,000 of food per month. Where on God’s green earth are these charities going to find this kind of money?
Food banks have “stood in the gap” for years making available canned goods and even frozen foods to charities at a dramatically reduced price. They were able to do this because of arrangements with many huge suppliers of grocery products that would donate as “gift in kind” excess, soon to be expired or discontinued products. Food banks would have to pay to get the products shipped in and stored. They, in turn would charge the individual charities a small price per pound to buy the product.
After a huge disaster, such as hurricane Katrina, vast amounts of food would be donated to the Food Banks, and shipping would be donated also. As a result, local charities could receive emergency food supplies free of charge for a season. In the case of Katrina, this went on for well over a year. Sooner or later the supplies run out and things go back to the old “price per pound” method.
Currently, most food banks are charging local charities around 18 cents per pound for food. That doesn’t seem like much until you stop and realize how heavy a can of any kind of food is. A can of corn weighs just under a pound. That means a can costs a charity 18 cents. If the charity wants to put a can of corn in each of the 100 food boxes; that amounts to $18 just to purchase the corn. Now start adding in other vegetables, fruit, pasta products, and canned meat and the price starts skyrocketing. Just ten different canned products push the food bank bill up to $180 per week. Add in some frozen meat and other products to fill the box up and one can see how the total bill can end up far past the charity’s means to pay for it.
Here you have the crux of the current problem. The need is great in poor areas and getting greater by the day. Local charities are closing due to lack of supplies and/or financial means to purchase them. The charities which remain, must now handle a marked increase in numbers of clients. Even if they had budgeted for the year and done fundraisers to get the money to stay afloat; with the increase in volume, they quickly are overwhelmed and find themselves in the same situation as the smaller charities. It is exactly like dominoes hitting each other and they all end up falling down.
Somewhere along the line, there has to be a domino strong enough to stand. Somewhere the collapsing charity train must be kept from totally derailing. Somewhere, someone must receive the wherewithal to keep receiving supplies and/or funds to purchase them so they can take care of the people. We must continue to fight for the “little guy” in the realm of community outreach, or people will end up literally starving to death.
Here is a dirty little secret no one knows; the government social agencies when confronted with a starving family can do nothing more than refer them to a PRIVATE charity to find help. So, for those who insist it is the government’s problem, go tell exasperated social workers that. Well, if not the government, it should be the big charities. Bless their hearts, they are doing the best they can, but are slowly but surely having the same noose tightened around their necks when it comes to food.
Then surely the local churches will help the people. The truth is, very few churches have any money available in their budgets for local mission work. What few churches that do have the funds, usually can’t help more than a handful of people and then run out of supplies. They quickly refer the people to the local community outreach centers; and they cycle starts anew.
We are truly facing a crisis in a realm no one believes exists. Very few Americans really believe there are people in this country starving. Don’t just take my word that there are, go find out for yourself. Sure, some of these people brought it on themselves and need to go get a job. But, there are countless tens of thousands who through no fault of their own, find themselves without shelter, heat and worst of all food. Many of these people are over 70 years old with no family to help them. Many are single mothers or families being raised by the eldest child because the parents are strung out on dope.
There are many reasons why people end up at the end of road with nowhere to go. There are many reasons why people end up homeless, penniless and hungry. There are many reasons people cannot afford medical care or insurance. To lump all these people together and say it is “their fault” and refuse to offer aid to them is paramount to abuse. To dump all these people on governmental agencies, big charities, churches or community outreach programs; and NOT SUPPORT THEM is nothing but hypocritical arrogance.
Please, any of you reading this, if there is any way you can help; there are thousands of innocent victims suffering out there. These are not people in Africa or Asia, although there are millions suffering in those places also, they are in this country. These are people who may have at one time been your neighbor or co-worker. They may have checked you out at the store for years. They may have had children who went to school with yours. They may have gone to school with you. The people in greatest need just might be someone you know but don’t know it.
How can you help? The food banks need major donations from suppliers, retailers, distributors and wholesalers. Mid-level charities need supplies such as truckloads of boxes of food, baby products and senior items such as meal-drinks and adult diapers. Smaller community outreach programs need FUNDS to purchase food from the food banks to keep providing a little help to those who are most desperate. Individual families need SPONSORS who will develop relationships with them and honestly find out what they need both short term and long term. Individuals need someone to work with them and direct them to a path that leads to self-sufficiency.
Please, America, don’t become so self-absorbed you forget to “love thy neighbor as thyself”. Please remember the golden rule of “doing unto others as you want done unto you”. Instead of smugly criticizing those who have fallen on the hardest of times, why not try sympathizing with their situation. Who knows, you might be in the same boat they are in sooner than you think. If America rolls up its collective sleeves NOW, we can head this crisis off at the pass. If America turns up its collective noses now, then it is only going to get worse and more painful to deal with in the future.
If you want more information on various groups desperately in need of help; please go to my Heart2Heart SHARE website and click on SHARING PARTNERS. Here is the link to that website:
Thank you for your prayerful consideration in this matter. It really is a matter of life and death for many people. God bless you.