The unforgiving recession that has cost so many so much has put a damper on the holiday season. As the more fortunate among us prepare for this special time with family and friends, others are struggling to keep their homes and to feed and clothe their children. For many families, there will be no turkey and trimmings this Thanksgiving, no toys for the children under the Christmas tree.
Safety nets of every ilk are straining under the lopsided equation of burgeoning need and shrinking contributions. Many of those thrown out of work don't qualify for unemployment benefits. Many of those who qualified have exhausted them. For the first time in memory, volunteers at soup kitchens and food pantries are being forced to turn away the hungry. Churches are being deluged with more pleas for help than they can handle.
The Bags of Plenty campaign of the Maryland Food Committee offers an opportunity to help. The effort is minimal. Shopping bags were inserted in The Sun and Evening Sun last Wednesday. Simply fill these bags -- or your own -- with cans and other non-perishable items and drop them off at a nearby Giant Food store, Provident Bank office or Baltimore City fire station. The committee is trying to raise money as well. Checks made out to Bags of Plenty can be mailed to the Maryland Food Committee, P.O. Box 23709, Baltimore, MD, 21203. Food donations are being accepted through Dec. 2; checks through Dec. 13.
This small exercise in civic largess costs little. Yet in another venue, a soup kitchen or the home of a family facing hard times, it could give a parent the strength to look for a job or prevent an innocent child from going to bed hungry. The faltering economy is in evidence all around us. Hardly a week goes by without another grim reminder that these are troubled times for many of our neighbors.
We gather to give thanks this week. For many of us, it will be with a sigh of relief that we have been spared the pain of economic hardship visited on so many others. A bag of groceries or a check won't change the world. But it may brighten someone's holiday.