November 20, 2013 —
The stock market has been seeing a string of trading days recently that have been setting all-time highs on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the news headlines are declaring this a signal for a season of strong holiday sales. For millions of Americans, however, the recovery from the Great Recession has been incomplete. Incomes remain more than 8% below pre-recession levels. The lingering weakness of the economy has left more than 47 million people (15% of the nation’s population) in poverty. At the same time, governments are rolling back benefits (more than 47 million Americans recently saw their food stamps benefits cut), while private and non-profit social-service groups continue under strain from years of a bad economy.
As we approach the end of the year, which is often filled with shopping for material items, it is worth remember that for many people, the end of the year is also about giving back. This is the season for giving, and more than 55% of Americans say they donate to charity in some way between Thanksgiving and the New Year. As the season’s holidays approach here in the Upper Delaware River Valley, many hundreds of local citizens will step up to help those in need, whether by donating money or volunteering their time. This generosity of spirit is amazing.
In the wake of the catastrophic typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Americans have been touched by the images we see, and the outpouring of donations has been remarkable. At the same time, we cannot forget that here at home there are also people who need help, and this year, the need is great, according to information we are receiving here at The River Reporter.
In Callicoon, NY, a program called Interfaith Outreach United (IOU), which runs the Main Street Thrift Shop and traditionally provides 70 to 80 Thanksgiving food baskets, indicates that their financial resources already are running thin this year “and we have not even gotten into the heating season,” reported IOU representative Dan Fritz. IOU also distributes toys and turkeys at Christmas, and provides assistance for rent, heating oil and other necessities of life.
In Pike County, the organization Hands of Hope is requesting immediate help to provide gloves, toiletries, bedding, gift cards (Wal-Mart, Price Chopper, Rite Aid, etc.) and other items to assist homeless and near-homeless families (info@PikeCountyHOH.org ). Donations can be dropped off through November 25 at Keller Williams Real Estate, 102 Wheatfield Dr., Suite B, Milford PA or at the Hawley office at 2523 Route 6, Suite 2.
Many local food banks are collecting for the holidays. (These do, of course, also need help all year round.) There will be toy and gift drives. Those who are able to give will have many opportunities to help those in need.
Charity is a deep-rooted element of human behavior. It is taught by many religions and communities. And while cynics might say its foundation rests in our ability to take tax deductions, we prefer to believe that it is based in compassion, the desire to relieve other flesh and blood human beings (and all sentient creatures) of suffering. Charity is not about the poor, who are all too often painted as lazy or undeserving. Charity is not about the recipient, but about the giver and what comes from the heart. We encourage residents of the Upper Delaware River Region to consider finding a local charity that is close to your heart and to donate.
And this Thanksgiving, let us give thanks that so many of us are able to give.