Friday, January 29, 2010

thoughts on giving

Today I took the kids to story hour at the library. It's been a crummy week here, cold and dark and gray, and Hubs and I are both battling a headcold/cough/sinus thing. Luckily the kids remain healthy, so maybe this germ is one they've already had (*knocking on wood.*)

So anyway, we left the library and scooted to the car, and my son just refuses to keep mittens on his hands, no matter what I do. If I manage to get them both all the way on, he uses his teeth to pull them off, that is how hateful he finds mittens to be. And folks, it is 12 degrees F right now, plus it is windy. Horrid, horrid coldness.

Daughter plunged into the snow outside the library, so she got in the car all snowy and even colder than she had to be, aarrrgh. Then I hoisted AJ out of the stroller in his big puffy snowsuit and buckled him in as quickly as possible with my bare hands (can't do carseat buckles wearing mittens!).

Finally I got around back of the car to shove the library books, diaper bag, my purse, my knitting bag, and the stroller all in the back, and while doing so I caught the eye of another mom doing the same thing, two cars down. She made a groaning sound and said "it's so cold!" I replied, "this is ridiculous!" And then she said, "this is HURTING!"

And she was right, it WAS hurting. When I finally jumped in the car, my hands were cold, sore, dry, and a funny reddish-purple color. I held them in front of the heat vents, which were going full blast.

Then we drove home in our nice warm car to our nice warm house to eat a nice warm lunch.

And I got to thinking, as I have been a lot lately, about people who do not have that option. We are all giving to the people of Haiti right now, or to the organizations that are helping the people of Haiti, correct? We're having telethons, and donating in the grocery store checkout line...and it's all good. It is definitely good, and necessary, and the right thing to do from a human compassion standpoint. But I find it frustrating that people are so willing to give to this poor country when our own citizens are out there freezing right now.

In our city there is a program called "code blue" that goes into effect when the outside temps dip below a certain level. Shelters are opened to take in homeless people, so that no one has to lose body parts to frostbite or, God forbid, freeze to death. They are featured on the nightly news when it is really cold outside, asking for donations of blankets, jackets, socks.

We have also been hearing about how people are going to food banks in record numbers right now, and the food banks are facing empty shelves. Everyone is willing to give at Christmas, when our wallets are collectively open and giving is on everyone's mind. But how about now, and for the rest of the year? How about remembering the single mom raising her kids on crappy wages, or the grandmother raising several grandchildren in her tiny apartment on a tiny social security check? Or the father and husband, swallowing his pride and going to ask for a bag of food to get his family through the week while he searches for a new job in a difficult economy?

Now, I'm a conservative on most issues, I'm of a capitalist mindset, and I fully believe in pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps. But I also know enough to recognize when one does not even have the bootstraps to pull - it could happen to any of us. That's why, in these unsure times, I'm trying to be frugal and save and be the best steward of our money and assets that I can be. But there are people out there who truly need some help, even if just temporarily...maybe only once. It is a horrible thing to have to put your hand out and ask for help, from a pride standpoint.

So when we're in line at the supermarket and they ask us to donate to the people of Haiti, do it, if you're so inclined. And then throw a dollar or two to your local food bank, to help our neighbors here at home.

1 comment:

Shari said...

We have alot of homeless here in our city, so I try to carry some juice boxes and granola bars in the car to give when asked for spare change. Maybe some socks, hats and mitts would be a good idea too:)