Although a drive to your local shopping center (or a peek through the ads in your paper) may make you think otherwise, this is supposed to be more than a season of giving stuff. Among many other things, it’s a time to remember that our job — all of our jobs — to take care of the people who need.
The USDA reports that more than 49 million Americans live in “food insecure households” and more than 17 million Americans lived in a home where “one or more people in the household were hungry over the course of the year because of the inability to afford enough food.”
Let that sink in: Sometime this year, more than 17 million people in the United States of America couldn’t eat because they couldn’t afford to buy food.
Feeding America, the country’s largest hunger-relief charity, feeds 37 million individuals a year, including 14 million children. (That’s individuals. Some of them obviously turned to Feeding America’s food banks more than once.)
Maybe it’s just me, but the idea that in this country we have people going hungry is unconscionable.
“Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business!” –Jacob Marley, A Christmas Carol
Now, meet Realtor® and farmer Darin Greear of Riner (just outside Virginia Tech). This year, working with the Virginia Gleaning Network, he and his wife Tabitha gave away 101,174 pounds of turnips, 16,681 pounds of winter squash and pumpkins, and 4,916 pounds of other produce (corn, tomatoes, beans, peppers, etc.) That’s more than 60 tons of food getting into the hands and stomachs of Southwest Virginia’s poor.
So, as you’re opening your gifts this year, or thinking about what new car to buy, or eating in a restaurant with your friends, or wondering if it’s time to replace your iPhone — remember that there are literally millions of Americans who don’t have those things to think about.
Darin Greear is doing something about it. And you?
Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanza, Happy New Year, and all those tidings. Now, how about making them mean something?