When was the last time you missed a meal? Not because you didn’t have time to eat before rushing out the door, or because you knew you would be having a large meal later in the day, but because you had no food. When was the last time your son or daughter had to go to bed with little or no food? Not because he or she wasn’t hungry, or feeling well, but because you had no food.
If you’re like most people living in Gwinnett County, you or your children probably were never forced to miss a meal because you had no food and no money to buy any. Yet, many families are in that unfortunate situation. In fact, since the recent economic downturn, more families than ever are in need of the bare essentials of nutrition. According to Laura Drake of the Southeast Gwinnett Food Co-Op, during the past few years, some people who used to donate are now receiving assistance from the Co-Op.
Nothing brings the message of need home with more impact than seeing people waiting in line at a food co-op. They’re not waiting for designer drinks or premium quality meats, but for basic foods that will keep them and their family from going hungry. Consider for a minute what it would be like if you had no choice but to stand in line for food so you could feed your family.
There are a number of food co-ops in Gwinnett County, (the Snellville/Loganville/Grayson area is served by the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministries) and they all face the same challenge- keeping enough food on their shelves so that supply can meet demands. As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, awareness of the needs of food co-ops ratchets up a few notches. That awareness leads to increased donations, yet the fact remains that for many people, hunger is a 24/7/365 problem; it doesn’t subside simply because holiday season ends.
Obviously, hungry families exist well beyond the boundaries of Gwinnett County, as do programs to provide food. Regional and national programs abound, as do myriad other charities. Many of the larger charities are well funded and continually operate awareness and fund-raising campaigns. Local charities typically don’t have the luxury of a large publicity budget and their needs, and even their very existence often go largely unnoticed.
That’s a fundamental reason that charity should begin close to home. In addition to filling needs that might not be widely recognized, local charities tend to fill those needs very efficiently. Local groups may also reach people who are often over-looked by, or don’t qualify for, other programs.
Another attractive aspect of local charities is that they tend to more closely monitor their operations. These charities aren’t in existence to provide for a dependency lifestyle. Their goal is to help people with a critical need until that need subsides. And they do that with tremendous success, in spite of limited resources.
Next time you receive a donation request in your mailbox from a national charity, take a minute and think about people in your area, perhaps in your own neighborhood who need help. And then consider where your donation will be best used.
Dave Emanuel is Vice President of Random Technologies, a manufacturing company in Loganville, and a Snellville City Councilman. To read more from Dave Emanuel visit http://www.cuttothe-chase.net