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My husband threw a few logs on the fireplace the other night
and standing there watching the dancing flames, I had a feeling of guilt
overtake me. I thought, “I am really blessed in the grand scheme of things! I
have a roof over my head and a kindling fireplace to enjoy the warmth with my
family. Yes, I am blessed; however, too many families aren’t so fortunate.”
As the cold air whirled outside my cozy home I knew there is
someone; some family; some small child who was not warming by a fireplace but who
instead would be fighting off the frigid weather, without a home and some even
without basic winter apparel. Far too many people will go through this Holiday
season struggling to stay out of the harsh elements and we will sit around our
fireplaces with our families enjoying life. Is that a bad thing, of course not?
Nevertheless, it should be concerning to us that at last count; there were
nearly 250 people in this community without a permanent residence.
Yes, 250 men, women and children in THIS community are
homeless and that number continues to grow annually. What can be done? Great
question and the first part of the answer is awareness. Familiarize yourself
with the community’s homeless issues. The week before Thanksgiving is National
Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week and the Macon County Homeless Advisory
Council, a subcommittee for the Continuum of Care sponsors awareness events
during this week each year. One such event that has taken place for over 10
years is “Box City”. The committee gathers local youth groups, provides
speakers, activities and construction of a box city where the youth sleep
outside to experience a night without a warm bed.
This year we held “Box City” at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
here in Decatur and it was one of the coldest nights on record for the event. I
do want to thank the church and the youth for sticking it out with my husband
and me! As I mentioned earlier, the warm fireplace was very much appreciated
after that sleep out but at least we did not have to go back out there the
following night. This is where my guilty feelings crept in, as I enjoyed the
A second part of the answer is to do something. Volunteer
your time and talents or donate to local efforts. If you need information about
volunteer opportunities or a list of local efforts please feel free to contact
the Homeward Bound office, 217-362-7700. In the meantime stay warm and filled
with the joy of giving this upcoming Holiday season and throughout the year!
My post today was originally going to be about the Christmas Baskets program, but as I sat down to write, I found that my heart was heavy with another topic.
It is heavy because it is the biggest holiday season of the year and a young girl was killed just over a week ago, allegedly shot by another young person. Let me begin by saying that I did not know the victim. I don't know her family, her friends. I don't live in her neighborhood. I've heard stories from many who did know her, who are devastated by her loss. All the sympathetic words and the vigils in her honor combined cannot piece the lives that were destroyed back together. Not even time can do that entirely.
But I would be remiss in remaining silent despite not knowing her personally. She did not die a natural death. She did not pass away peacefully in her sleep, or even from a long drawn out terminal illness. She died at the hands of another child. When I was fifteen, it never even crossed my mind that I could be walking down the street and be shot dead by another person my own age. I never worried about that kind of violence.
Where have we, as a society, gone wrong when it comes to our youth? When did we become so accepting of children killing children? Why have so many of us become complacent when it comes to the issues that face these kids today? We need to stand together as a community and give support to our young people so that when they are faced with gangs, and drugs and gun violence and all of the things that cause these things to be an issue in the first place (racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, domestic violence -- the list goes on and on), they choose to take an alternative path instead. We need to continually offer them other opportunities to make better choices, to show that we care about them and the things they're doing in their lives, so that they see there are other alternatives to violence.
I pray for the families in this tragedy. Not just for the victim's family and friends, but also for the person responsible, and their family and friends. Violence in our community ruins so many lives, and we have to stop being apathetic about what's happening with our neighbors and the other people in our community.
I urge you to take a step toward making a difference. Volunteer with an after school program. Become a mentor for a student. Get involved with your neighborhood group (or help form one if there isn't one where you are). There are a LOT of ways you can make a difference in the life of young people. Maybe you can be the person who saves a child from being victimized by violence .
The 2013 Coats for Kids drive is in great shape now, but we still need your help to meet the need of families seeking coats. When coats are donated, they are taken to a cleaner to make sure the coats are ready to wear when they are distributed by participating clothing rooms. There are wonderful volunteers keeping the coats moving. We don't store them for some big give away day, they are taken from the cleaners to the clothing rooms to be given out as soon as they can be. There are so many wonderful places that allow us to collect the coats. It shouldn't be hard to find a place convenient for you: Classic Cleaners, 2474 N. Main, Decatur
Corner Cleaning Connection, 1154 E. Prairie Ave., Decatur
CVS, Monroe & Pershing, Eldorado and Fairview, 16th & Cantrell in Decatur
Decatur Public Library, 130 N. Franklin Street, Decatur
Decatur Township, 1620 Taylorville Road
Jane's Cleaners, 664 W. EldoradoJerger Pediatric Dentistry, P.C., 2101 N. Main
Krogers, Airport Plaza, Fairview Plaza, South Shores Plaza, Brettwood
Land of Lincoln Credit Union, East Mound, North Oakland, East Walmart Plaza
Longcreek Township, 2610 Salem School road, Longcreek
Macon County Building, 141 S. Main,
Moweaqua Nursing Home and Retirement Center 525 S. Macon, Moweaqua
Peerless Cleaners, 519 N. Monroe, Decatur
Pride Cleaners and Launderers, 2553 N. Main, 1804 E. Eldorado, 912 W. Eldorado, 2056 Mt. Zion Road
Regions, 333 E. Pershing, 2340 Mt. Zion Rd., 350 N. Water,1355 W. King, Decatur
Richland Community College
Soy Capital Bank, 560 E. Pershing, 455 N. Main, 4825 US Route 36, 1685 S. Franklin St. Teresa High School, 2710 N. Water Street, Decatur
Texas Roadhouse, US 51 North, Forsyth
Waite's Cleaners, 1004 S. Main, Decatur,115 Magnolia, Forsyth Thanks to everyone who has donated a coat. If you haven't had the chance to do so yet, we will be collecting through November 30.