It's probably a scene out of the movie made at your house, too, on many winter mornings. The soundtrack always includes the furnace coming on or already on as you kick off the covers, get out of bed and begin the day.
Your house is warm, perhaps even cozy, by the time you're ready for breakfast before you head out to school or work. Yeah, for a lot of us that's our routine and we've grown comfortable with it, to the point we may not realize others open their eyes in a cold house and have to face tough daily decisions for themselves and their family before the coffee (or cocoa) assuming there is any, is even finished.
During what we call the 'holiday season' from around Thanksgiving through the New Year, we tend to be a bit more observant of the scene around us in terms of who has enough and who needs a helping hand. But the holidays are long past and those generous donations to agencies and charities, much and deeply appreciated as they were, are completely expended by now, but the need for help continues.
We've been there, or think we have, I guess. The tough times, the money is tight times and we know what the struggle feels like, but if you're reading this, I can assure you we are better off, vastly better off, than many who live not just in our state but perhaps on our street.
I have never needed to make a 'Heat or Eat' decision and I hope, neither have you. New England winters can be bone-numbingly cold in the best of times, but when you're choosing to pay your heating bill or to buy groceries, we're looking at a decision that can freeze your heart and crush your hope. In a nation that prides itself on how we care for and about one another, Heat or Eat should be a turn of phrase none of us has ever heard or used.
Every time I visit the Stop & Shop in the Norwichtown Common, like so many others, I add a canned good or two (kept right there at the check-out) to my order as a donation to the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry but I have no illusions, nor do you, as we're walking away from the cashier that we've 'taken care of' that problem.
Regular donations to agencies such as the Connecticut Food Bank too often feel like we're using a teaspoon to empty an ocean, especially when nearly half a million Connecticut residents every month need some form of assistance from an agency supported by the Food Bank.
Over 140,000 of our children are "food insecure" (= no reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable and nutritious food). That is at least 140,000 too many. The solution to this problem isn't in Washington or Hartford, it's in each of us.
Two weeks from today, is Ash Wednesday, marking the start of Lent. How about this year, instead of giving something up, we give something to those who are helping others? Time, talent, treasure, it's your choice, Together, we can change the world, one meal at a time, every time.