In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty in his State of the Union address. Fifty years later, how have American families advanced? We are not too much altered 50 years later in 2014. When you visit your local stores I’m sure you have noticed everything is rising except our pay. Most of us have had to learn to get by on less, and tight budgets are a necessity to make ends meet. Well, what happens to the families that are already getting by on less? These days, families have to persevere. Not to build moral character but in order to survive. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice the federal poverty level to meet their most basic needs In some households they are not meeting those basic needs.
Christmas especially is a time when my heart goes out to those families, and the homeless. It’s a hard lesson to learn to count the blessings you have, and not dwell on the blessings you don’t. Many families are discouraged when they are trying so hard to survive all year round and then, here comes Christmas. What do you say to a child when there is no extra money to buy gifts, even a small one? What do you say to a child that believes in Santa when Santa won’t be coming to their house this year? ‘Belief’ is right up there with ‘dreams’ and that’s what we want for all children. I myself never want to see that sense of wonder of hearing the Christmas Story, the ‘Gift of the Magi (teaching about unselfish love), or A Christmas Carol (teaching about generosity, kindness, compassion and the universal love for your community) gone from a child’s world of wonder. Families sometimes struggle so much every day to make ends meet through no fault of their own that the pleasures of life have been worn away. The homeless are also longing for an end to the aloneness caused by being homeless and the accusatory looks from passerby’s that can’t even imagine what it would be like. It is not for us to judge any fellow human being, just open your heart and let your love be passed from one human to another, its that simple. Don’t over think it.
When I see the outpouring of donations during our Christmas Basket Drive it reminds me of the many individuals that show love for one another. Our city is known for tremendous outpouring when a need arises. But there are also those that judge.
The basket programs in Decatur do a service for families and they do it well. When the meaning of Christmas leaves your heart and you complain about the commercialization of Christmas or the money that is spent, or not spent (for the benefit of the business owners) reevaluate what have you have done to put back into the meaning of Christmas. My Christmas is much more meaningful after coordinating the preparing of around 350 families Christmas Baskets knowing their Christmas will be more enjoyable for them and their children! Much more meaningful watching the number of volunteers that come out in all kinds of weather to help with the baskets and watching all the donations that comes to us to make all those baskets possible. Placing your happiness in the happiness of others is what Christmas has come to be part of. Christmas means different things to different people. What does it mean to you? To some it’s just a word, to Christians it marks the day that God loved us so much he gave us a wonderful gift. The gift of pure unselfish love and the ability to love our fellow man!
What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace. ~Agnes M. Pahro
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanza, H
Francie Johnson, Program Director Community Services/Decatur Area Project
Christmas Basket Drive Coordinator
Francie (R) with MHS Representative and their donation of Christmas Socks, 2013