At this time of the year when the holiday season is in full swing, the spirit of the occasion leads us to think about the less fortunate in the world. Sometimes, this means thinking about those who live in the Third World, where there are certainly populations of those suffering from a lack of resources to see to their basic needs.
Yet what many forget is that here in North America, many families have been struggling all year just to make ends meet, relying on social programs like foodstamps to make sure that they are properly fed. Some are facing foreclosures, job losses, the burden of medical expenses due to lack of insurance coverage, and declining quality of life in general. The holidays for these people are often a reminder of their plight, not a comfort.
As a means of raising a bit of awareness at this time of year, I thought I’d shed some light on the plight of domestic poverty, particularly in the United States. With some stats in front of us that reveal just how many people are struggling under the weight of financial burdens this holiday season, perhaps our spirits of giving can be better ignited. And maybe too, we can take a look at how to change things for these people after the holiday season has come and gone, with a list of organizations working to change the tide of the numbers. Take a look.
The numbers are pretty shocking, with almost 15% of American families living below the poverty line, and a whopping 20% of children in US touched by poverty. To put things into perspective, that’s more than the population of Canada.
So, what do you do about this dire situation over the holiday period?
Well, here is a brief list of non-religiously affiliated charitable organizations to consider spending money and time on.
1. Bill & Belinda Gates Organization
In addition to global relief efforts, the organization invests in domestic programs as well.
Learn more about the state of things in America. Examine your own community and how you can get involved in changing things for the needy in your neighborhood.
3. Oxfam America
Find out more about poverty in America, from an organization who is perhaps best known for cost-efficient and cooperative efforts in the Third World. Yet, as they point out, suffering from the effects of poverty is just as real when living in a relatively wealthy nation.
4. Feeding America
Read real stories of real people facing hunger issues in America, and about how you can help.
5. United Way
Issues of education, health, housing, employment, and even the environment play into the question of domestic poverty. Learn more from the United Way, an organization who draws these elements together, and empowers communities to strive for change.
Listed as one of Oprah Winfrey’s ‘favorite things of 2010′, Kiva allows you to lend an amount (you decide how much)to an entrepreneur who has no resources, anywhere in the world. This includes those in your local community who are trying make a new start with a new idea.
I’ve listed some secular organizations here, but with the United States being a vocally faith-based country, another great resource are churches, synagogues, and mosques in your area, many of which include progams that see to the needs of the poor in your local community.
Also, check out Habitat For Humanity, which has a Christian element to their work, along with extensive expertise in providing affordable housing for those affected by natural disasters, as well as by poverty in general. One high-profile individual contributor to HfH in the past has been former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, and his wife Rosalynn.
Read more about poverty in America from this article from Business Insider.