This month offers unlimited opportunities for inland area residents to participate in the holiday spirit of giving. Whether it’s through our churches, service organizations, jobs, etc. the opportunities to participate in the tradition of giving are abundant.
The inland region offers unlimited opportunities to do so as poverty in the area remains untenable. Currently, at least 16.4 percent of the area’s population lives in poverty and nearly 20 percent of those are under the age of 18 years. In fact, on average across the inland region more than 23 percent of the area’s youngest children, those under the age of six, live in poverty.
As we grow up and older, we come to understand the true meaning of Christmas has less to do with gifts and gadgets and more to do with peace and love, but for children, especially those whose parents don’t have the means to provide some of the gifts and gadgets they hope Santa will have for them in his sleigh, Christmas morning can be a disappointing event.
Although I, like many others, have argued passionately against the marketing and materialism that has overtaken the Christmas season, I recognize this is a societal dilemma for adults to grapple with, not children—especially children whose circumstances deprive them daily of most of the trappings enjoyed by the many who are more economically advantaged.
In addition, it is also important to remember these children and their families also need more than toys. One in eight families and at least one in four children in the inland region are food insecure. As a result, any donation that assists with groceries will certainly be welcomed. Also, as we move further into what is forecasted to be a cold and wet winter, the need for warm coats and jackets are also pressing.
As you think about how you can give to those most in need in our community this season, remember the opportunities to give are only limited by your imagination and willingness to do so. If you can’t give a toy, give a hug and a smile. If you can’t give groceries donate a can good or two. If your resources are limited, find a way to donate your time—many local charities need additional helping hands this season. My mother taught me, and I sincerely believe—that it is so much better to give than to receive.
Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.