Thanksgiving: Give The Needy What They Need
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? -- The Gospels
My middle-school aged daughter serves on the Student Council, with one of the largest projects so far this year being a food drive for the needy.
Thousands of cans of food were donated, along with almost a full pallet of ramen noodles and mac-n-cheese.
I'm of the opinion that hungry people will eat almost anything. I've done my time as a poor undergrad student and had a few major family illnesses causing hardship. And over the years, I've always been very grateful for any help I've received during times of family illness or financial distress -- but most of the time people just didn't know 'what' the best help would be in the situation. Ramen, rice, and mac-n-cheese were the staples from the ever tightening budget -- but oh, how boring that diet gets quickly.
Seeing things like this always gives me a moment of pause -- what do the poor and working-poor really need?
Most can always afford a 15-cent package of ramen noodles in a bind, we're not doing much to alleviate their suffering by donating quantity over quality.
And I'm for sure not advocating donating caviar (as an extreme) to food drives -- but canned meats, especially canned ground beef, go a long way in stretching the endless boxes of mac-n-cheese into something a bit more of a meal for a family.
But there are non-food necessities as well -- if you're going to eat, you're going to need toilet paper. And other toiletries like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, laundry detergent, basic OTC medications, and the like are all expenses that everyone faces -- but I've rarely seen them as part of a 'care package' given out at holiday times.
A $7.99 12-pack of toilet paper might be more of a life-saver to a family than 12 more boxes of mac-n-cheese (and toiletries can never be bought with SNAP benefits).
There's nothing wrong with being proud of helping anyone in need and every little bit helps, but at the same time, we can't forget that we are doing something for them.
Dozens of groups specializing in helping the poor and working-poor -- and most have lists of things needed that are low-cost and relatively easy to give (I've prepared 'natural disaster' kits to be handed out after hurricanes, etc for less than $3 each from things bought at Dollar Tree).
In the final analysis, we always have to ask ourselves one simple question -- Am I doing this for the poor or am I doing this for my own emotional satisfaction?