Monday, October 13, 2008

Have you ever been poor?

I mean really poor? I haven't. All the crying and carrying on about the economy has gotten me thinking about being poor. I've been broke. I've been down to the last 5 cans of soup in the cupboard and no money for gas, but I've never been truly poor. Even when I felt that I was, I had my 5 cans of soup and a friend who would loan me $5 for gas. There have been a lot of times my kids didn't have the newest whatzit. My oldest will tell you that she feels better for it. She's almost 20 and has a job, a house, a good boyfriend and gets great grades in college. Many of her friends have always had the newest and shiniest whatzits. They never had to try for what they wanted. She did, so now while her friends flounder or continue to live off the parental gravy train, she flourishes. Again, she's never been truly poor either. We live in a new shiny whatzit society. Lots of people confuse lack of whatzits with poverty.

There are people who are truly poor. They've eaten their 5 cans of soup, the power has been shut off and they don't know if they will be able to get it back on, much less pay rent. These people live a lot closer to you than you might think. It's been a warm fall, but the weather is going to change. Even with global warming, it will be cold at some point this winter. There are people around you who will feel an overwhelming sadness because they can't provide for their kids. I'm talking about the working poor. People who work hard, but don't earn enough for the basics in life. They make too much for government assistance, and too little to get by. These people are the ones who send their kid to school in clothes that are too worn or thin for the weather. You can help them. You should help them. Contact your local public schools and talk to the counselors. Ask for the sizes of kids who may need a new coat or some gloves. The counselors will make sure the kids get them, without making them feel like a charity case.

That last part is kinda important to kids. Being a poor kid is hard enough without everyone reminding you that you're poor. At our school the counselor will simply tell kids something like "I found this and it looks like it will fit you. Put it on before you go out to recess." I met a principal from Springfield once who used a backpack. He gave kids a backpack full of stuff that they could take home to their family. He just used regular backpacks, not the same one over and over. The other kids on the bus didn't have to know what was in the backpack and likely never thought about it. It was a lifesaver to many families because food stamps don't cover toilet paper and shampoo.

Give to the food banks and groups when you can. Help a kid if you can. And if you still have those 5 cans of soup, be thankful that you're not poor.


May said...

Good post. My mind is thinking along those lines as well, mostly because of the upcoming Blog Action Day (the 15th) is about poverty. I'll be posting about it in a couple of days and, yeah, as a kid who was damned poor, it sucked hard. I feel the worst for the kids, too.

Doc said...

you've a good heart on you.

i grew up not poor/poor - i remember standing on line with my father to receive government cheese (not just an anology, thank you). and you are dead on in your analysis - kids know they're poor and don't want to be reminded, especially in public.

not only is cold weather coming on, but the economy is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. i'm talking as in 'years worse': every little bit anyone can do will go a long way.