Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty.....what is it to me?

My husband sent me a link today to a very interesting site.... Blog Action Day 2008. The topic that bloggers were asked to write about today is Poverty. At first I thought, I don't really know much about poverty, thank goodness. But then I found myself thinking how shallow I am for not knowing anything to say on the issue. So, I gave it more thought and low and behold lots of ideas began coming to my mind!

I am fortunate to not be in a state of poverty. I have a wonderful home, a beautiful family, lots of friends across the income spectrum, a great job and my bills are all paid up to date. I am blessed to not have to worry about major financial issues at the moment, other than making sure my retirement fund is not being wiped out. But, my eyes are open enough to see that there are tons of people in our world that are not as fortunate. I keep seeing this homeless man walking around the suburb that I live in, and I always think..."We have homeless people here? When did that happen?" I see signs that indicate the percentage of children that go to bed hungry in the metropolis area that I live in. I see these things and I keep driving. I might say a little prayer thanking God for my blessings, but I just keep driving.

Sure, I participate in clothing drives, food drives, make donations regularly of the stuff in my house I no longer need, write checks to charitable organizations, and have even led a fundraiser for a non-profit organization that helps underprivileged children in a city nearby. But, what does that really add up to? Hopefully, it adds up to a little bit of something for a lot of people...or a lot of something for even one person.

I could list some statistics but if you're reading this I would bet you are pretty internet savvy and know how to look up statistics that are meaningful to your belief system. My recommendations for helping out the poor are these....

  • donate to your local food banks often
  • sort through your clothes and shoes and donate items that you haven't touched in the last year (someone else will most likely wear it more than you out of necessity)
  • pray for the needy around the world
  • participate in fund raisers that benefit those affected greatly by poverty
  • if you live in an area with homeless people, or see people begging for money on corners, carry a snack bag with you to hand out to them that includes food and bottled water
  • find out how political candidates you are considering voting for feel about poverty stricken people and what those candidates have done to support bringing people out of poverty
  • educate young people on choices they might be making that can lead them to an impoverished lifestyle
  • live by example.... help in ways that are safe and possible for you and your family
There was a time in my life while growing up when we were pretty close to poor. My mom was a single parent of two daughters, but she moved us to a bigger city so she could get a decent job and have a steady income to support us. Fortunately, she received some child support and help from grandparents when it came to clothing us, but I remember her telling me that I would have to wear my shirts and pants a couple of times before washing them since we had to go to a laundromat...that she couldn't afford to buy a lot of groceries....that I had to get a job and help pay for my own expenses when I was 15.... We always had a roof over our heads, we always got medical treatment when it was needed, we always had food on the table, a phone and electricity, a car for my mom to drive....lots of things that truly poor people don't have. She struggled to raise us by herself for several years, but we all came through it and better opportunities came along.

I guess the message about poverty that I would like to convey is this.... be aware of poverty. Try not to get so wrapped up in LIFE that we forget about what's outside of our little bubbles. If all you can do is pray for the poor, then pray. Prayer is a very powerful tool that I believe in strongly. But, if you can donate time and money to help out then certainly try to do that, too. We can all make a world of difference when we want to.

Here's a link to even better ideas to help end poverty.