How Can I Make An Impact?

by Angelo Anderson

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year... Happy Holidays. It’s amazing how such simple greetings can change the attitude of the most reluctant giver. That person who would normally pass a needy person by on the street, or pass by someone trying to sell the Grapevines in an effort to improve themselves becomes more generous at this time of year.

It seems to be the time of the year which those who have are more aware of those who have not. Be it concern, compassion, or simply guilt, charitable giving definitely increases during the holiday season. According to a report in the October 28, 1996 New York Times, charitable giving rose to 23.5 billion dollars in 1995, and that a disproportional amount of that giving was done during the holiday season.

It is a wonderful thing that people give so much during this one month of the year. But it must be understood that during the other 11 months of the year people continue to starve, and sleep on the streets. There is still a lack of affordable housing and people die on the streets trying to survive in their homeless environment.

If this country continues to develop low paying, minimum wage jobs and supplying an inadequate supply of housing for the economically poor, the homeless population will continue to grow, affecting more Americans than ever. This is the real deal for the other 11 months of the year.

Charity during the holiday season should continue but try some of the following during the other parts of the year:

  • Coat and glove drives before the winter season.
  • Year round food drives (not just during the holiday season)
  • Join groups like Habitat for Humanity that are working on providing adequate housing.
  • Write legislators asking why more legislation is not in place to reduce poverty.
  • Contact city officials to find out why building which have not been used in years are not being used to help the homeless.
  • Fight against the “Not in my Backyard” mentality whenever a shelter or service is opened in your neighborhood.
  • Educate yourself about the causes of homelessness and become more active in the fight to end it.

If we can find a way to call a cease-fire to all the petty wars and conflicts, if we can call for people to join hands in peace and brotherhood during the holidays, then why can’t we find a way to combat the problems that confront us everyday? Let’s make an effort to take the spirit of holiday giving and make it an all year event.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published January – February 1997 Issue 19