The holidays seem to remind us that there are people in need, or maybe it is the feeling of giving that is felt a little bit more during this season that has us remembering that there are people in our own communities that need help to have a nice holiday. Carole offered this as the Ten on Tuesday topic and the lists are looking pretty similar so I hope to give you a little something to think about.
"I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you [...] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money."-Ben Franklin
- Cash is best.
- Food banks can pool donated cash and take advantage of buying in bulk or partnering with grocery stores and companies to stretch your donated dollar. That is better than the individual shopping retail.
- Your dollars can purchase fresh produce, meats and poultry.
- Remember, when you shop in the market you are presented with a huge array of product and you can choose what suits your family, not a random selection of donations.
- Food banks get to know their customers and can make sure that they aren't loaded with high sodium soups when they have many who are on sodium reduced diets.
- Or gluten free items for the celiac or gluten sensitive or diabetic appropriate foods or almond butter for the one with the peanut allergy or foods suited to avoid many allergies.
- Giving out of our cabinets or our shopping carts creates a huge amount of work for food pantry workers, largely volunteers.
- Hours of mantime are spent sorting, checking for freshness and to make sure the foods meet the health standards they are required to meet.
- When so many Thanksgiving boxes are going to families in need next week, those boxes can be tailored while at the same time 'evened out' across the board so that everyone is getting about the same thing while suited to their individual needs.
- You can also donate your time, but be aware that in our area you must pass a backround check and complete a course on appropriate behavior intended to protect children and each other from abuse.
- BONUS: Food pantries will also purchase grocery store gift cards so that families can shop for themselves. I KNOW, you are worried about what they will buy, but so many of the families taking advantage of the pantries are not doing it because of drug or alcohol use, they are victims of the economy and over the last few years there has been an uptick of clients needing to temporarily get by while waiting for a job or better health. You could save volunteers this one step and donate grocery store gift cards!*
This last is from me. I have seen what the food drives turn up and while it is given from the heart and often it is food that the donating family will eat, a lot of it is foods that are just not healthy. I'm not saying these foods never made their way into my home, but they never would now. I've been forced to learn a lot about food that I never wanted to and wonder how much Mac n Cheese it took to put my body into an inflammatory state. I don't want to contribute to that.
*Edited to add: Gift cards are huge. Imagine not having the opportunity to choose. That, in itself, is a gift.
2012. Twenty-three. If you can, give. If you need it, take. When you can, give back. Remember: people are still hungry in March! Or July! Every month there is a need!