Companies announced several more thousand lay-offs today. For every person laid off, there is a family that will live a leaner, hungrier existence. They'll do without food, necessities, and clothing.
If they haven't already discovered the joys of shopping at the dollar store, they soon will. Things like papertowels, tissues, and fresh fruit will be a distant memory. So will doctors, children's vaccinations and replacement filters for the heater.
I've been there. Unemployment is roughly one half of the person's salary--if they qualify. Unemployment is not taxed so at the end of the year, Uncle Sam shocks you with a demand for taxes due. And unemployment only lasts as long as it takes you to get a job at the nearest fast food joint or gas station. Once you take that job, you're employed and no longer eligible for unemployment.
Food pantries truly try to stem the flood of hungry, needy families, but the demand is greater than the supply of food. Many of the companies that used to routinely donate surplus food are now in financial trouble themselves. People and churches in the private sector that used to give so generously of their wealth are now on the other side of the fence.
It's a normal reaction for us to be ready, willing and able to help--yet hesitate as we don't know exactly how to do so. Some hold back, not wanting to embarrass or humiliate the very people they want to help.
I can only give my personal thoughts on this, garnered from my personal experience. A gift card from a grocery store or super Wal-Mart will never go amiss. Stick it in one of the many "encouragement" cards that are on the market. Add a note of well wishes or "wish I could do more". Every dollar not spent on groceries out of the family budget can go on other pressing items like shelter and heating.
We all hope and believe that things will get better eventually. But in the meantime, a little boost never hurts. So if you have it to share, please do. And if you don't have monetary resources, perhaps offer to babysit or tutor a child or help someone with a resume. All good things. All ways to Upsize our neighbors in a downsizing economy.