Letter to the Editor

First Posted: 2/28/2009

To the Editor,

Christmas is over, for some its a sigh of relief others, just sigh. Many of us dread the inevitable holidays worried about what to give, what to wear to parties, what to cook etc. Others however, worry about if they will have the funds to do all these things if any at all. Starting around the first of November we all become bombarded with requests for donations to individuals, churches, non profits and others trying to do good for those in need. Radio shows have contest that allow us to nominate a needy family to receive all kinds of great things for Christmas, food, heating oil, gifts, clothes for the children and even trips. One family is chosen from many nominees to receive these great gifts. While churches, businesses and individuals are struggling to collect things needed for the rest. What does this tell our society? That you have to be super needy, to the point of destitute and then you can win great things during Christmas? Does this tell those that are getting by, barely making their bills, eating a lot of beans and potatoes and keeping an extra blanket on the bed at night, that they re not worthy? Dont get me wrong I think there are a lot of great things going on out there and we need it to keep our society connected and in tune with one another so we dont forget how fortunate we do have it. But, are we sending the message out wrong?
During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday there are basically 3 categories, those in need, those that dont qualify to be in need and those that are bombarded with requests to help the previous 2 categories. Then comes January and all is forgotten until the next year. But what happens in that very long year to those that are in the neediest category? Does the help they receive miraculously carry them throughout the year? Is some sort of magic spell woven into the gifts they receive to bring them work, health, hope, and prosperity? Or do they just do the best they can and hope to receive another down fall next holiday season? What about those that dont fall into the neediest category? Do they become dishearten because they fall through the cracks? Do they begrudge the fact their children will probably never see Disney World because they cant afford the trip themselves but they dont qualify to be needy enough to deserve one? Do they decide to just give up, try to become as poverty stricken as the next group so they can get a chance at the door prize? Are do they use it as a motivation to make something of themselves so they can be the ones that are asked to help? What about those that are the helpers? Are they glad to do it, do they offer before being asked or do they help begrudgingly? Is it strictly a tax write off for them? Something they do without thinking in hopes of saving some money at the end of the year? What about those that refuse to help or just ignore the requests? Are they sending the wrong message?
I know of a young girl, single mom, 22 years old with a 3 year old daughter; she is a full time student at a four year university, works a full time job and gets no child support. She went to apply for food stamps and was told she made too much money, her scholarships counted as income! The employee taking her application told her, if you quit school we will be able to help you. The message they are sending is quit trying to make things better for yourself and we will let you take a ride on the government assistance express. Are they sending a wrong message? I think so.
We all need help from time to time, a sudden death, divorce, layoff, sickness; many things can wipe us out and even put us on the street or living with family in a quick minute. We should be there for others and help when ever we can, but I think we need to help and not hinder. We made it through the Great Depression and WWII on strong ethics, helping those we could and working hard, we can do it again, but we have to start sending the right message. For many the message is simple, Do the best you can with what you have to work with and things will be ok. Others, its a little different depending on their circumstances, but too many people before us have come a tremendous way through obstacles and hurdles we could not imagine. Now its our turn to do the same.
Janet Harvey

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