There are no words to describe what it’s like to look into the eyes of someone who cannot provide enough food for their family. They’ve exhausted all of their own resources, forcing them to turn to strangers for assistance. The things we often take for granted, like food, clothing, and shelter, hold so much value in those moments. Many of us are able to take a trip to the grocery store on a whim and leave with a cart full of groceries. What if you were out of milk and bread but knew that not only could you not afford to purchase more, but you also didn’t have to transportation to get there? Our society prefers to focus on the lives of those who live in luxury while ignoring the 1 in 6 Americans who cannot even imagine such a life. It's increasingly common to focus on the material things we don't have than to be thankful for the things we do.
We’ve all seen the TV commercials of hungry men, women, and children in foreign countries. When we talk about hunger, that’s often the image that comes to mind. We don’t think about the 43,000 people in our own local community, that’s over 20 percent of the population of Fort Smith, AR, for whom access to an adequate food supply is uncertain. Most Americans can’t imagine struggling with hunger day today, not because we don’t come into contact with these people, but because we don’t pay attention. I realize that not everyone shares the same views concerning charitable giving and social services; however, I do believe that many people would be willing to help their neighbors if they paused long enough to truly see their hardships.
It’s heartbreaking to listen to a mom talk about not being able to nourish her growing children. As a mother, I cannot even fathom the heartache she must feel when her children ask for food and she cannot provide it for them. Every morning without fail, my little ones wake up at the crack of dawn asking for their milk and breakfast. They don’t even give it a second thought. They know we have milk and food in our refrigerator at any given moment. However, that may not always be the case for us or anyone else. What if parents suddenly lose their jobs and have to choose between paying their mortgage and their electric bill? What if a member of your family becomes suddenly ill, and the medical bills are too much of a financial burden to carry? It’s in those unexpected moments in life, that many people come to depend upon the generosity of their communities to take care of their families.
This November, we challenge everyone, including ourselves, to stop and take note of the people in need around us. As we’re planning our grand Thanksgiving feasts, please recognize those who are not able to celebrate this holiday. Step out of your comfort zone and let someone share their story with you this month. If you observe someone in line at the grocery store who comes up short, offer to help them out if you’re able. If you see a homeless person in need of food and shelter, direct him or her to the nearest shelter, soup kitchen, or food pantry. While these gestures may seem insignificant to you, they could tremendously impact another person's life. And, our observations might just open our eyes to all we have to be thankful for and our hearts to the joy that comes from giving.
Visit www.perdiems.org for more ideas on how to get involved in helping hungry families in your community.