Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Limited Time Offer

We're nearly equidistant, on the calendar at least, from the start of winter and the beginning of spring. And don't let this 'February is the shortest month' stuff fool you; last February was the coldest on record and by the time this one ends (complete with its bonus day, because why would you want an extra day in June when it's summer?), we may be talking about the same kind of snow and ice.

Of course, we are very fortunate. When it gets too cold outside, most of us go inside and turn the heat up while we make ourselves something hot to eat. For us, cold temperatures are at their worst an inconvenience. But some of us don't have the opportunity to opt for one followed by the other.

For many of the over 300,000 people who rely on the Connecticut Food Bank, that heat or eat decision is a very serious one that they're forced to make every day when the mercury in the thermometer starts to dip. And be it February or August, there isn't a particular month or a day of the week that agencies like the Connecticut Food Bank and others who help people couldn't use our assistance.

Those in need here in the wealthiest state in the Union, seem to be our invisible indigent and that possessive pronoun is deliberate because when we think about it, all of us know at least one someone who is struggling. But we too often are distracted with our own situations to make the need of others a top of mind concern. We look but maybe we don't see.

If you're somebody who has trouble 'seeing' 300,000 people in need, imagine Bridgeport, Connecticut's largest city and then double its size. That city's population is still smaller than the number of people in need of help. And to bring it all the way  home to Eastern Connecticut, take Norwich's 2013 estimated population of a hair over 40,000 and multiply it seven times. We'd fill Dodd Stadium nearly fifty times.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent which, for Christians, starts the season of preparation for Easter, celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. Lent, I was taught by the Sisters of Charity, is a remembrance of the forty days the Gospels say Jesus spent before beginning his ministry praying and fasting in the desert.  

Growing up in a Roman Catholic house, Lent was when we kids were called on to give something up, from meat on Fridays to a dessert, or maybe a favorite cartoon show and to do without. We made a much bigger deal of what we were giving up than it really was.

So how about it. It’s not forever, just about six weeks or so, starting today.Sacrifice something, from a coffee to a pack of cigarettes or a dessert, nothing big and take the cost of that item you're forgoing and pick a charity that’s one of the helping hands in our community and donate to help those who need assistance. Give til it helps.
-bill kenny




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