The face of poverty has changed in America. People march, demanding “livable” wages be paid for fast-food jobs. Many in America once saw these jobs as the purview of teenagers supplementing their lifestyles. Now, more and more, people of all ages are working these jobs to meet basic family needs.
As I listened to the local news this evening, I heard about a nonprofit organization in one Central Florida community assembling school supplies and backpacks to give to nearly 1,000 children. In Florida, schools reopen mid-August. I remember the anticipation and excitement of shopping for my “back-to-school” wardrobe and supplies of Wigwam Glue, Magic Markers and composition books. Those first two items were popular in New York City during a particular decade. Vanity precludes me from saying which one.
Now stores post lists of items required by different schools. My parents only had to purchase a few things for one child. What would their reaction be to having to make purchases from posted lists or having to provide hygiene items for the school? So much more is required of individuals and families at even greater costs today.
Then I saw a tweet by political analyst Donna Brazile — a quote from a very wise man. It made me think about what I could do as an individual, as a community member, someone with the power of the ballot to help my neighbor. I will start where I am. I have a gently-used backpack I can donate to a nonprofit. Maybe I will fill it with items a child might need for school and then slip in a $5 gift card — just for fun.
“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.” – Nelson Mandela

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