A MinD in MoTown

I’d give the shirt off my back.
December 3, 2009, 4:26 pm
Filed under: MoTown, Tis the season, When poverty strikes

“I’m here to do a job,” I say to myself as I walk into the Mooresville Christian Mission, carrying my fancy $250 digital camera with my two-month-old $175 North Face jacket half-zipped up. Sure, I might be wearing a pair of shoes that have been falling apart for nearly a year and I’m clearly in desperate need of a touch-up to my highlighted hair, but my personal version of “poor” in no way compares to what I see before me.

Here are people – perhaps down on their luck this holiday season or maybe just unable to truly make a moderate living – spending what little they do have on worn clothing, discarded household items and used toys in the hopes of making a better Christmas for their families. Some are even inquiring about free food they can obtain. They actually struggle. They truly need. They face hardships I can’t even imagine.

And there I am, not exactly “rich,” but evidently different.

People like myself – the middle class 20somethings, if you will – often feel as though we’re tackling the same battles that those individuals I encountered earlier today deal with on a daily basis. We cry “I’m poor,” we complain about our inability to purchase a new cell phone or iPod, yet we have no real idea what it means to seriously contemplate foregoing gift-giving because the heat bill can’t be paid. We’re the people who have bad days when it comes to cash flow, maybe even bad weeks or months on occasion. These people are the ones who confront bad years or even lifetimes. Their struggles are different than our own, no matter how much we sometimes feel they’re similar.

Yet they, and even we, are the ones most willing to give, most eager to volunteer our time or put up what little we may have in the hopes of brightening someone’s holiday.

It’s the student teacher who decides he’ll assist at the soup kitchen and buy holiday gifts for a six-year-old girl he doesn’t know. It’s the college student who donates $1 to various organizations every time she’s asked. It’s the news reporter who works a second job yet “adopts” a 10-year-old boy for Christmas who only requests Star Wars figurines from Santa. It’s those of us who maybe live paycheck to paycheck, with little “extra” money each week, eating Ramen noodles far too regularly, who would give anything to ensure no child wakes up Dec. 25 with nothing under his tree.

We’re the ones who make sure a mom can get her sons haircuts or who ensure family-less senior citizens are still remembered during the holidays or who help dish out food to those who may have no home, let alone a place to cook a Thanksgiving turkey.

And hopefully you’re one of that “we.” You would step up if need be, if you saw poverty prevailing and Christmas slipping toward non-existant for someone in your town. If you came across a man who couldn’t buy his children the red wagon they wanted from Kris Kringle because the mortgage was due. If you heard a family would have nothing if not for the donations given to the local Goodwill.

It’s this Christmas feeling of giving, of hope, of love that we need to carry all year. It’s easy to remember those less fortunate when the holidays approach, but what about in May when you’re planning a beach vacation yet a young boy down the street won’t get to celebrate his birthday?

I, for one, must become more diligent in this and – I apologize for saying this already – I’m sure you have to, also. It’s so simple to go about our lives 11 months of the year and then when charities come begging because the countdown to Christmas has begun, we feel the need to do our part. Us 20somethings will soon become the 30somethings, then the 40somethings, and so on. Imagine how much good we can do in our own communities over time if we start the giving back now, while we’re young and barely getting by?

I walked into the Mooresville Christian Mission today just to take a few photos for the newspaper. I departed with more than a desire to give back, but an absolute need to do so. Me, a 24-year-old who sometimes borders broke and penniless for days at a time, wishes she could’ve “adopted” 50 kids this Christmas, but whose wallet will only allow her to make a difference in a little boy named Dylan’s life this holiday.

I’m doing my part – and I promise here and now to keep to it throughout the year – and I hope you are, too.

11 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Not only that, you just gave me the idea to put SNOW on my blog!!!

You are a giver, ladyfriend. 😉

I do what I can!

Comment by LiLu

Good for you! I can’t say no when I see a giving tree. Just the thought of a kid not getting gifts Christmas morning makes me want to cry.

Same here. Isn’t Christmas more about kids anyway?

Comment by Megkathleen

good for you! charities and giving back are my favorite part of the holidays. I take part in the giving tree at concord mills mall and when I see those names hanging up, I choke up EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

Here in Mooresville, the Christian Mission has approximately 250 kids left for adoption this holiday. That number is crazy high! I’m writing an article for Wednesday in the hopes that people step up.

Comment by thatShortChick

First off, it made me smile to see that the snow is back again.

One of my resolutions a few years back was to not wait until the winter hols to feel the need to give back to people and it’s one of the few I’ve managed to keep up.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” – Mother Theresa.

This isn’t the first year I’ve done something at Christmas, but I certainly need to start doing so during the year rather than just the holidays. Maybe you can remind me on occasion? I may need it!

Comment by Kendall

It’s awesome what you are doing. Even though we are not poor like the people you saw, many of us are a step away if the interest rate on a credit card or student loan goes up.

Very true. I don’t know what I’d do if either of those things happened. My budget is tight enough as it is!

Comment by Jonathan

You’re right. After my relationship with Boyfriend, who comes from an actual impoverished background, I will never complain about being “poor” again. Giving back is crucial. Thanks for reminding us.

I know I’m just one of many who say, “I’m poor” all too often without thinking about those who actually face that as a reality, rather than just a mere complaint. Sure, I only have $20 for the week, but I still have $20 that some people never see.

Comment by Akirah

I agree with everything you just wrote. Most “poor 20-something middle class Americans” aren’t actually poor – they just don’t have the things they “want”. Unlike some kids around the world, we’re not digging through trash dumps, working 16 hours a day, drinking goo that passes for water!

By the way… it’s snowing on your blog!

It is snowing!

And we’re so fortunate to not be those kids, but it’s so easy to forget about them because it’s not directly affecting us. We all need some sort of wakeup call if you ask me.

Comment by [F]oxymoron

You are so right. I am so thankful to have what I do which is not much more than talent and faith. With my business, I vowed to help women in battered shelters AFTER the holiday season..that’s when most people in need get depressed. after january, no one cares anymore. great post!

Thank you. Hopefully someone read it – maybe? – and decided to get motivated and help someone else. That’d be the best thing ever, if it were to actually happen. I just need to remember to stay involved come January and through the whole year. So many of us need to remember that.

Comment by Felicia

great article! i’m trying to do more as well.. i know i definitely could improve tho

We all can, in some fashion. Thanks for the comment hun!

Comment by floreta

I love videogames despite the fact that I don’t have much time to play them anymore. The video game community has setup an organization called “Child’s Play.” They raise money to buy hospitals video games for the sick children to better enjoy their stay in the hospital.

This year, God willing, I’m hoping to make a small donation of a game or two for these sick kids. I know video games made me feel soo much better whenever I’m sick.

That is so sweet of you, and what an awesome way to give back. I had no clue something like this existed, but it’s a fabulous idea.

Comment by OmegaRadium

How is this my first time seeing this? I need to stop being such a lame blogger.
I completely agree with everything you’ve said, & I just love the idea of doing something small to make some semblance of a difference.

I think we all fell behind on blogging and blog-reading, so no worries!

Comment by Melissa

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