BY BOBBI ALMEIDA
It is that time of year again. Time for families to begin making their holiday plans. Children anxiously count the days until Santa will come and bring them presents. It’s time for husbands and wives to decide which in-laws they will spend the day with. It is bright lights, trees and sales galore. But for some, this is not how their holidays are defined.
For some, it is the anxiety of wondering where their next meal will come from. It’s hope that they have enough supplies and clothing to make it through the bitter cold temperatures. It is the reality that all of their worldly possessions are tucked into a backpack or a shopping cart. Families who barely have enough to pay rent or utilities, have nothing left to provide any extras for their kids. This is their reality. The fact is, poverty and homelessness don’t take a holiday.
For places like the Marian House, there is a rise in donations this time of year. Volunteers come in full force and during the holidays, some have to be turned away. The giving spirit is abundant and folks just want to help. Unfortunately, the need is just as great in December as it is in the middle of June. Hunger does not stop with the cold of winter, or the ringing in of the holidays, or the heat of the summer. As a part of the Marian House family, I see the way the shelves fill up during the holidays. I see volunteers coming in and cheerfully preparing and serving meals to the ones who pass through the doors during meal service. The need remains the same year around, but the impact is not as urgent, or so it seems.
Hunger and homelessness is an issue year-round. The sad reality is it does not take time off for Christmas or Thanksgiving. It also does not take time off in the summer. The Marian House operates 365 days a year. When the city closes for inclement weather, the Marian House still operates. There are still hungry people that count on the meal they receive from Marian House. For some, it is the only meal they have on a daily basis. There are times when the Marian House operates with a shortage of volunteers, yet the job gets done. This does not happen during the holidays. There is something about the holidays and the spirit of giving that make people open their hearts and their wallets. While every dollar donated and every hour spent volunteering is undoubtedly appreciated, it isn’t enough to only recognize the need during the holidays.
Often the battle to end poverty seems hopeless. But it is never thankless. Whether it is from the mouth of a client who just had a meal, or the smile on a child’s face as they leave with a toy to play with, the appreciation is there. If you don’t believe me, come in and spend a few hours volunteering. You will leave with your heart as full as the stomach’s you just helped feed. For many, holidays are about family and giving. Giving is not limited to just holidays for the Marian House family. Please, come be a part of a year-round battle. After all, poverty doesn’t take a day off.
Bobbi Almeida is a security guard at Catholic Charities Marian House.