Thursday, November 14, 2013

Give to the Max Day!

When I lived in Minneapolis I always donated on Give to the Max Day.  Now that I no longer live there I am focusing my efforts a little closer to home.

I seem to give a little here and there all winter.  I typically drop off one or two toys at a local toy drive, I purchase a few of those prepackaged food donations at the grocery store.

But, like Jenny, I’ve been considering lately how lucky my family really is.  When I was young my family was fairly poor.  I grew up in a trailer park.  My grandparents owned it, and I mostly have good-neighborhood-tons-of-kids-playing kinds of memories.  But there were times when I saw rural poverty up close.  I have a huge family and so I was always warmly covered by someone’s hand me downs.  But I remember a little girl in the neighborhood who always waited at the bus stop without a hat and mittens.  

For several years I lived in Minneapolis.  I would see the snow piling up, or the thermostat would register -30 and I’d think, “Why the HELL aren’t they cancelling school?  Those kids are going to freeze at the bus stop.”  Then one night on KARE11 news the mayor explained that schools rarely closed because for some children the school lunch was the only warm meal they could get each day.  I was working with teen mothers at that point and had the opportunity to see urban poverty.

Now that I have the privilege of teaching Sociology part time, I show the full Frontline Documentary: Poor Kids in America   to my students.   If you have time, I encourage you to watch, even a few minutes of this.  

This documentary brings poverty into sharp focus.  The children have dreams that they realize will probably not come true.  They discuss tactics for making extra money for the family by searching dumpsters for cans.  And they describe their strategies for ignoring their hunger and trying to focus on their school work.

No matter your political persuasion, I think we can all agree that children benefit or suffer due to the circumstances (or choices) of the adults in their lives.  

I see my little boy growing, confident in his abilities, warmly clothed (in 99% secondhand clothes) and feeling safe in the world.  I think of all the children whom I have known, and held, and tickled (and of course, those I haven’t met) who could benefit from just a little kindness from those of us who have more.  That’s why I’m dedicated to doubling my donations this year.

Jenny is a masterful coupon user…so she might beat me there.  But I have a few more ideas up my sleeve! 


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