Saturday, September 24, 2011

Post # 172 Bet You Had No Idea How Many Kids Go Hungry in My Town, or Yours

Backpacks provide bounty Amarillo Globe-News  <-------- click here for an awesome story about people helping hungry kids.  YOU COULD DO THIS TOO!  I grew up in a era of history where don't ask don't tell went for just a whole lot of issues.  Shoving issues under the rug was just what was done.  There were lots of elephants in the room of every household in town.  Child Abuse? never heard of it    Hunger? nope   Sexual assault? SHHHH   Mental illness? Good Lord, NO, you didn't talk about it   Homosexuality?   Are you kidding me? My favorite aunt was gay and I didn't know she was gay, even though she lived with another woman, until I was in my early twenties in the 70's and heard my mom refer to her sister and partner as those fruity people and I asked what did that mean.  I have no idea what she told me, I doubt she whispered the word homosexual but she got the point across somehow.  I was married to a man for 19 years who I never told anything about my childhood (nor did he tell me about his, however his mother told me some things so I knew his childhood was no walk in the park either but he and I did not talk about it...we learned that "shove it under the rug lesson" well). Anyway, the facts are I did not have an Ozzie and Harriet style childhood.  I had food but not the 4 basic food groups every meal.  My dad was mentally ill in the 1950's when there were no drugs, treatments, therapists, help and on top of that you didn't talk about it.  He worked hard when he could but mostly during my lifetime he could not work.  My mom was a waitress, not in a fancy restaurant where tips were good but in little mom and pop cafes.  She also did ironing for people and sewed for people.  She did everything she could so we could scrape by.  The 1950's and 1960's were really rough for my mom.   She had no family emotional support, or financial support of any kind.  Food stamps? no  There was no one to babysit for her while she worked.  She did the best she could with what she had.  She had the hardest life of anyone I know and we won't go into that here but what I remember of a childhood mostly blocked out was coming home for lunch from elementary when I was 6....and fixing myself something to eat with what I could find....eating catsup on bread, mustard on crackers, Karo syrup poured over torn up toast, oleo on bread, and---my favorite and ate so much I can't look at it any more---peanut butter on crackers.  Those were the things I remember eating daily for a "meal" all through elementary school.  Bologna, potted meat or pickle loaf with Miracle Whip on bread sandwiches were a real treat....really.  When I was just a little bitty girl I could boil spaghetti if we had the noodles (no sauce) and I could make myself tomato soup if we had a can.  I do not remember mac and cheese---that was probably outside of our budget at the time.  This week I called my sister, who is 8 years older than me,  and asked her why we did not eat in the cafeteria.  You know, free lunches for poverty level kids?  She said there was no cafeteria at  our school.  We grew up in Tucumcari, New Mexico....I'm guessing population 5,000 more or less.   I started school in 1960. At that time Tucumcari had 4 elementary schools and none of them had a cafeteria, my sister told me.  There was a cafeteria over between the jr high school and the high school and my sister said that was the only school cafeteria in town.  She guessed elementary kids were bussed there for lunch maybe, but it wasn't us!  I thought I walked home for lunch because we lived 2 blocks from school but after she said that I realized she was right, there was no cafeteria at our elementary school!!!!   Anyway, with this background you can understand why children going hungry strikes a chord with me. I suffer with depression and I still, at age 57, have therapy to deal with issues from my childhood.  I literally can not bear to read about children that are abused, hungry, neglected, uncared for in any way, shape or form.  It hurts me like someone stabbing me with a knife and twisting it and just to hear about a child in need makes me bawl. Really. And reading stories about children in America that are tortured to death, usually at the hands of a parent or step-parent?  Literally drive me so close to the brink of despair that I fear I will be back suffering a mental breakdown again so I just can't read about them.  According to Wikipedia,  In 2008, there were 1,494 child murders in the United States...that is all the searching for stats I could stand to do, but whatever the number, it is pure evil and it breaks my heart that evil things ever happen to a child. It is one of the things I have to deal with.  Hearing about mistreated, neglected children just sends me in such a downward depression spiral that is so unbearable I can not take it.  I have given up reading CNN on line, or listening to the news usually, because there is just so much evil in the world towards children.  Anyway, Last Sunday I bought the newspaper and on the front page was this story...Backpacks provide bounty Amarillo Globe-News .   Last Sunday I just skimmed through the article. I bawled.  I could not even read it word for word , too painful for me, but I did notice the number of kids on the waiting list and that it only takes $133 a year to sponsor one child.  There are 591 children on the waiting list.  591 children.   I started crying and put the paper away and it is still sitting on my dining room table, I was not able to open it up and read anything...not even look at the coupons for which I buy the newspaper.  There is absolutely no reason for a child in a middle of America prosporous town like the one in which I live to go hungry.  I know they do.  I know they do, right now, today, in my town.  I knew it before I saw this article. There is absolultey no reason for it.  I live on social security disability and a small retirement check.  I don't have just a whole lot of extra money but when I saw that article I told my daughter even I could sponsor a child.  There is no reason why every household in this town that is not truly struggling to feed their own could not step up to the plate and help feed less fortunate kids.  There are very few households who could not take some of the access and abundance of items of which we all seem to have and throw a garage sale and use the proceeds to sponsor a child. $133. I bet in your town there are kids that go hungry.  I bet in your town there is a person who could start a program like this.  I bet in your town there are people who could clean out a closet or two and raise enough money to feed a child. I bet in your town it could be you. And I am super proud of my daughter.  She is a psychology major and member of a psychology club.  They meet Monday.  She is going to see if her club could not only volunteer to prepare these bags of food each week but to do some things to raise money for these hungry kids.  Casey, I am so so so so so proud of you for being willing to do something about a cause so dear to my heart.  Right now my feelings are so raw ( I need to get back on my meds) that all I can do is bawl about it, and blog about it, and hope other people will see this need and do something about it too.  (and for all the people who wrote nasty comments on the newspaper website about lazy parents, people using foodstamps and driving expensive cars, etc etc etc please let me just say shut the heck up until you have walked in one of those children's shoes for a year or two) 

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