Friday, June 28, 2019

Restoring Dignity by Mentioning the Unmentionables

As I write this blog post, it is officially summer. I just received an envelope from one of my fave charitable causes that feeds the hungry. Hunger is something most people in the United States don’t think about until it happens to them. Yet there are people on their job and in the classroom that can’t think of anything else. It’s what goes on beneath the surface that I want to discuss today.

It was a domino effect. First, this brilliant organization, Foodlink, reminded me of something that has been of concern to me for awhile. There are many children who receive subsidized meals during the school year and it’s often the only time they eat. Therefore, they often go hungry during the summer months. 

Fortunately, Foodlink with its mobile food trucks, and many other charitable organizations like it show up at the YMCA, public libraries, and other community organizations all summer to provide food for starving children who are too embarrassed at their parent’s neglect to tell anyone they are starving. Dignity.

So instead of sending me one envelope, Foodlink BOLDLY sent me three! One marked for June, the second for July and the third for August. And they brazenly reminded why they did it. BRILLIANT. 

It gnawed on me almost daily. And here I am telling you!

One of the kids in my community, who was not afraid to speak up, told me his mother said closed mouths don’t get fed. He would have to speak up if he had a need, because she could not provide for him at the time.

I know not all people have the confidence to say when they need food, clothing, shelter, a reassuring hug or love for that matter. They are embarrassed. Even if it is temporary. 

But one thing I learned in my faith walk that opened the door to my (now public) conversation with GOD which I wrote about in My Love is One was that it is important to be sensitive to the needs of others. 

In addition, give in a way that allows them to preserve their dignity. No need to brag or boast or call them out which often only diminishes them. Mind you, it is a temporary condition for some and others are just stuck due to some emotional distress (divorce, job loss, love lost, illness or death in the family) from which they have yet to recover.

See a need? Fill it if you can and move on. That’s it. Don’t ask for publicity or a pat on the back. GOD rewards the giver. And we are expected to look out for those less fortunate not step over them. However, give what pulls your heart as it’s very important to have your heart connected to your giving. Your friends may feel a need to give elsewhere. Let them.

Last, but possibly even as important if not more, I am asking for a special request today. Donate items to homeless shelters, youth and adult abuse crisis recovery centers that are rarely requested. I am asking people (who feel connected to this message) to join me in filling the following "unmentionables":
  1.  Donate healthy non-perishable food items to your local food pantry (consistently) and bring your children when possible. They will be more grateful with every meal. They are also more likely to give when they grow up. Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
    1. Donate Brand NEW clean underwear (adults and children) in the package. NEW Bras (all sizes). 
    2. Donate boxes of sanitary napkins and tampons. 
    3. Donate NEW Socks (all sizes for all ages). 
    4. Donate NEW (or softly used) shoes (within your budget). I really like pretty flip flops. So when you see glittery ones for little girls and women, please get a pair to share. Let them see something pretty and have hope. Sometimes it’s the only beautiful item they have. And everyone wants to feel pretty. Beauty inspires. Right?
    5. Donate NEW Toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant.
    6. Donate toilet paper.
    7. Donate NEW combs, hairbrushes, pretty ribbons and bows.
    8. Speak at a local urban high school (Don't sell. Inspire. Business, Tech and Financial Literacy especially NEEDED. Speak as if GOD is listening. Likely.)
    9. Baby items (clothes, strollers, bassinets etc)

    Feel free to contact your local food pantries and crisis centers and ask what they need. You can also donate financially as they purchase many of these items as well. Even 1 item per week makes a difference. Adding quality sets you apart and sets you up for a BLESSING.

    “Blessed is the one who considers the poor. In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him; the LORD protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.” Psalm 41:1-2

    As a side note, I once volunteered for a holiday giving program that brought gifts to children in urban communities. They received the usual dolls and trucks etc.

    I recall one little girl wearing a summer dress in the middle of an ice cold winter. Obviously, it was the best her parents could do at that time. She was dressed and she was in school. That was a good thing.  

    She had received an expensive pretty doll, but she gazed longingly towards the boy that received a hat and gloves. I knew she would have traded that doll for warm clothes without a single thought. My heart could barely contain itself. She never said a word. Yet I clearly see her plight. That experience stayed with me. It was easy for me to make a difference but difficult for her to convey her need.

    I also learned that poverty is not always in an urban community. It happens in middle class communities too. So it’s important to diversify your giving in urban and suburban food pantries. 

    When people lose their jobs it can sometimes be months or years between job placements. It can be especially challenging if they are over 40. And that’s often when they have children going to college, mortgage and car payments etc.

    You can not single handedly end poverty. Nor is it your job to do so. Ultimately people must think, learn, and come out of poverty themselves with the proper training and financial educational tools which is not necessarily taught in most public schools today. 

    But you can make a difference no matter how large or small. It’s consistency that matters. 

    Whatever you are doing today, this weekend or next week, find a way to give. That’s what really opens heaven’s door to pour out blessings that will fill your need(s) that may or may not be considered “unmentionable” to you.

                                       ###
    "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his deed.” 
    Proverbs 19:17

    P. O. Box 20711 
    Rochester, New York 14602 USA