We can reach out and help the hungry

Christmas, six years ago, I wrote an article asking people to donate to both the Buckley and Enumclaw food banks. Since then, Bonney Lake has developed an active food bank of its own.

Christmas, six years ago, I wrote an article asking people to donate to both the Buckley and Enumclaw food banks. Since then, Bonney Lake has developed an active food bank of its own.

Why? Because our neighbors need help.

A gentleman whom I will call “Mr. X” said, “Those people who get help are not really in need. They are just lazy and go from place to place getting food and things. All they do is abuse big-hearted people. If they would just get a job or work harder, they would be fine.”

Boeing, Comcast and WaMu have recently laid off thousands of workers. Smaller businesses – restaurants, cleaners, neighborhood businesses, newspapers and even schools have laid off, or are about to lay off, workers. We went to a restaurant which is usually full of people. We were the only ones in the whole place. Mr. X, what are these people to do who have been laid off, especially if their spouses have been laid off, too?

Yes, they can collect unemployment – for a while. After all, during all the years they worked they paid into it, so it is their right.

Yes, they can look for work, but where? Nurses are needed, but the school programs are full. With the new stimulus programs, construction workers are needed, but can a 60-year-old office worker do the job?

What are these people out of work going to do? They are going to need to “bite the bullet” and use aid offered by food banks.

I asked Mr. X if he had ever been to one of our local food banks and he said he had not. I suggested he go to see for himself, listen to people coming there for assistance. I told him to then come back and talk to me about all the “freeloaders.”

Who uses their services? People just like you and me, but who have had something happen to throw their lives out of whack. They are people we sit next to at church and pass in the aisles of the grocery store. There are people you see who are having trouble feeding their families and people who are homeless. Yes, we have homeless people in our communities.

They may be:

• single mothers working at minimum wage jobs, often at night, whose rent just went up who need food for their children

• families who came here with the promise of a job, but there is no job

• recently abandoned women with children or women who have left their abusers

• families suddenly overwhelmed by big medical bills

• the newly unemployed whose paychecks had barely covered their bills

• families who have used up their savings and have no jobs

• families whose heat, water, phone, etc., have been turned off

• people who cannot pay for a needed prescription

• families who have just been given a foreclosure letter

Today our food banks are helping far more people than ever and their resources are stretched beyond belief. What can we do to help?

I do not know why I felt compelled to write on this topic this month. Usually people write about these organizations at Christmas time when there are lots of opportunities to help our neighbors – Giving Trees, food drives, holiday donations to food banks, church raffles, etc. However, the holidays are long gone, but the need is even greater.

I guess it is because as I sit in my warm living room nightly I am more and more disturbed by the reports of huge layoffs and more and more home foreclosures. Fortunately, they do not affect me personally, but what about my nephew whose real estate business is down to nothing or other families with younger members whose jobs are in jeopardy? What about the sons and daughters of friends at church, in our book clubs, our Red Hat groups or bowling league or even our neighbors?

What can we do to help? We can donate money to our local food banks. They can stretch money in ways you would not believe in order to feed our brothers and sisters. Maybe it is just a dollar or two, maybe more, but it will be so appreciated.

Remember the fellow who said that what we did for the least of our brothers we did to him? Let’s put that into practice even if it is March and not December. Call your local chamber of commerce and they will tell you how to reach the food bank so you can send them a donation.

Seniors, if we are able, let’s step out and lead the way. Some of us have been hungry, out of medicine or in need of other kinds of assistance. Let’s encourage others to follow our lead.

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