Editorial: Plan to help the poor beyond the holiday season

The poor should not only be assisted with food and other help during the holiday season but throughout each year.

The poor should not only be assisted with food and other help during the holiday season but throughout each year.

Assisting the poor

It is almost the end of November, and the beginning of the “season”. For some it’s the shopping season, for others the Christmas season, the holiday season, and for most the giving season.

The giving season begins with Thanksgiving Day falling  this year on Thursday, November 23. Although this year may have presented challenges to individuals, families and the community, the majority have much to be thankful for. But, there are those who for various reasons find themselves in adverse situations, with little to be thankful for.

Spirit of kindness and brotherly love

Over the next few days individuals, groups and community organizations will host dinners for the less fortunate, or donate turkey and other food.  The giving season continues through to Christmas or year’s end with most residents in the community adapting a spirit of kindness and brotherly love hardly seen during the rest of the year.

People who normally paid scant attention to the plight of the poor will find it possible to recognize those who have little, probably homeless or living in deplorable conditions. Some will reach out to children who have no toys to play with or nowhere to play.

Then comes the New Year, and the giving season leaves with the Christmas and holiday seasons. It may be difficult for some to even participate in long term projects to alleviate poverty. Nonetheless, more can be done, outside of the end of year giving season, to help the less fortunate in the community.

The poor revert to poverty

It is gratifying that at least for four to five weeks at the close of each year there is this giving spirit. But, unfortunately, the poor revert to poverty, the hungry to hunger, and the sufferers to suffering when the giving season ends.

Several community and other organizations should be commended for providing for needy individuals, including children, from Thanksgiving through to the end of the year. However, those concerned with fighting poverty year- round often question why can’t the same diligent planning for fund raising, food collections; food banks, clothes and toy drives, home repair and general spirit of goodwill and generosity extend throughout the year.

More often, than not, regardless of how sympathetic and concerned they are with improving the plight of the poor and less fortunate in society, some people are unable to assist. As indicated in a report released recently by United Way, over 60 percent of Floridians live pay-check to pay-check, with very little disposable income to allot to charitable causes.

Realistic long-term plans

But, there are others in the community, including public organizations, that could be more involved in making  realistic long-term plans, and implement strategies to provide assistance to the poor, year-round.

There are those who would argue state and local governments should implement policies that secure more equitable distribution of incomes, and radically reduce poverty. But, until such policies ever materialize the reality of life is poverty exists side by side with prosperity.

As thanks is given this season; as funds are found to load shopping carts during the shopping season, and pile gifts under Christmas trees, people are urged to remember the less fortunate.

Set aside for charities monthly

People tend to save diligently for the end of year holidays. Several organizations also diligently organize and plan fund raising for charitable reasons around the holiday season. It has been suggested if these organizations urge people to set aside for charity just one percent of the funds they save monthly for holiday shopping, more could be done to assist the poor throughout the year, not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This sounds like a positive suggestion. Of course, it would take serious planning to make the implementation of this suggestion practical, but at least it deserves the effort.

Generosity towards those less fortunate, shouldn’t be committed just to the giving season. Such generosity should be part of a longer-term commitment. Something seems awry for widespread charity to be placed on hold for eleven months, then unwrapped and displayed with much publicity for just one month. It would be good as the community gives thanks this year, that it also commits to helping the poor for the long term.

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