In sitting down this week with the director of the Jefferson County Community Ministries, I learned more than I ever imagined about the number of people within our county's borders that need assistance.
I discovered, and had it confirmed elsewhere, that there are more than 700 children in our county who are considered "homeless." That brought tears to my eyes as I tried to imagine my own children without a place to live, clothes to wear, food to eat.
There are so many calls for aid that bombard us each day via television, radio, social media and the papers. Calls for help in foreign countries and cities within the United States, come in daily as tragedies strike. But tragedy exists right here in our own backyard and we often just block it out or simply don't know it exists.
As temperatures continue to dip below the freezing mark, the thought of families who don't have warm homes or those who have homes but not money for heating oil, brings more of a chill than the outdoors. I know at our home, with a two-household income, we often struggle with increased costs of fuel to provide heat. I cannot imagine those who simply cannot find the funds.
That is where an organization such as Community Ministries provides much needed relief. But, despite their good intentions and intent to help, they cannot do it without donations coming in to build the budget. Just as the Food Pantry cannot fill the orders of those who would otherwise go hungry without the donations of food items, the budget set aside to assist with heating and even with medications and other bills is not self-producing.
At this time of year, with the holidays approaching, many people recognize the need to offer assistance and gladly step forward to do so. But the need goes beyond the holiday season. Winter months can be never-ending for those without resources, without hope.
And let's not kid ourselves being one without resources and hope can happen in the blink of an eye. I sincerely doubt that the individuals who seek assistance planned to find themselves in the situation in which they are now in. I don't believe any parent intentionally places their children in a "homeless" situation. Bad luck, bad timing, loss not planned for can all lead one to be in a position of need. While you are not in that position, take a moment to offer a helping hand to those who are. Whether it be via canned goods, gently used (or even new) clothing, toys for Christmas or a monetary donation that can be used for future needs-reach deep and help others. You never know when it may be you in need.