I know what it is like to have $1.16 to my name. It was often due to choice (I don’t need money as I am living off the land), but not always. I can remember nights on the farm, after tucking in those three little boys of mine, and heading out to the cornfield and having a good cry. Yet, even on those nights, we had the house and wood to keep us warm, wool from the sheep for mittens and sweaters, milk from the cow, eggs from the chickens, and well, the list goes on.
One time in Pennsylvania, before children, before jobs, we searched our car to find a few coins to make a phone call to Indiana. The coin was found. The call was made. That was a long time ago.
What I want to say is that even if I think I only had $1.16, there was always family, there were always possibilities, even then.
The other night Kathy and I were talking about the government shut down. We are all talking about it. The feeling of helplessness fell over us. We are pretty isolated here in this small bubble of utopia in northern Indiana. But while my refrigerator is full, and my bed is warm, the guilt spreads over me. Have I really ever gone without in a hopeless kind of way? Except for those few nights crying in the cornfield, I have not had that experience.
So how about you? If you are reading this column, then I would guess life is pretty good to you. You either get the paper delivered to your doorstep, as I do, or you are on-line reading this. Either way, you probably have coffee and heat. At least I am assuming that is true.
I made several calls this week seeking out ways to help in our county just because it is January and it is cold outside. I had a long chat with Josh Hawkins who is the case manager at Turning Point and the pastor of the Fremont Community Church. My question was simple, “How can we help?” I am, of course, interested in helping families who are in need because of the government shutdown, but it appears we do not have a great need here, but let’s talk about giving in January.
As Josh and I discussed, during November and December we are all givers. We give freely to Project Help or Turning Point or food banks or families with names on Christmas trees, but what about now in mid-January? Donations are down, but needs are not.
So, how can we help? I have actually put a short list together for us. None of this is complicated or expensive, and every little bit will help. My list is just a beginning. You can make your own list and give where you see the need.
At this time Turning Point needs donations of consumables such as laundry detergent, diapers, feminine products, toilet paper, soap, etc. I suggest we each buy something extra at the grocery this week, maybe just one or two items and then drop them off anytime Monday-Friday from 9-5. Think what we could do if we all bring a couple of items. Add your own to the list…toothpaste, toothbrushes???
Don’t forget food donations to Project Help. Send your clothes off too! Josh also said his church in Fremont has a food bank which helps over 200 families a month.
I asked Josh how we could help in this cold weather. He sadly told me about folks trying to stay warm in cars at night. I am naïve and saddened, but there are places to call. If you, or someone you know needs help, please call 211 or even on-line at 211.org. They will direct you to help in your own town with a list of programs and shelters. Let me just say the phone wait is long, so please be patient.
I am so proud of all of us in the ways we take care of one another. We just need to know there are great needs out there and that Christmas is not the only time to give.
The moments of giving are still upon us. Donations of cash are always welcome too.
We are known for our beauty of lakes and parks. We are known for our university and hospital. We are known for the sweetness of this town. Let’s also be known for our generous hearts.
I thank you all.
Note: First published in KPC newspapers, January 26, 2019.