Monday, December 5, 2011

PSA: Giving during the Holiday Season

Regardless of your spiritual or religious affiliation or lack thereof, we can all agree on one thing this holiday season: giving is of the utmost importance. We take for granted that we have a roof over our head, clothes on our backs, a job to call our own, and food to eat. We don't even think about the fact that people in our own country are starving, can't shower, and will not be able to read blogs like this because they don't have the internet, not even a computer or any technology to speak of. We should all take a moment and think about the reality of this situation and contemplate how it is we could go about at least putting a smile on someone's face this holiday season, if we can't help them in a more significant way.

More often than not, when we donate, we end up helping the rich become richer through supposed donation organizations where the majority of the funds (roughly 85% of the donations in general) go to the administrative staff that is supposedly 'distributing' the donations. Yeah, mostly distributing it to their own pockets. Let's stop this vicious cycle of feeding the ones who were never lacking in the first place, and donate items of consequence. Go to your local homeless shelter and donate some food, or do the same in your neighborhood grocery store. Maybe even walk up to someone who you see on the street and hand them some food. We constantly focus on severe situations in various other continents, but lest we forget that those close to home are very much in need.

According to Columbia University, nearly 15 million children in the US are living below the poverty level. You may be asking yourself how much that means, it equates to less than $22,050.00 a year for a family of four. That's right, you read that correctly. I can't even fathom how one person could live off of that amount, let alone four. This means that 21% of all children in the United States (a first world country since last I checked) are below the poverty line, when it is estimated that you would need at least double that amount, $45,000.00 a year or more to cover basic expenses (this means shelter, food, water). 42% of all children live in low-income families, this is classified as families of four which make less than what I just told you would be required for basic needs. What is going on with our society? Why aren't we donating our time, efforts, and expendable money to the people who need them.

You may be reserved to give to adults, thinking that they can do better for themselves or they wasted their opportunities, but you can't hold a grudge at children as they are not underprivileged through any fault of their own. Even so, I implore you to reserve your judgments on others. Until you know the truth about each person and their history, you have no right to make any judgments (and even then, it's probably better that you don't). I will tell you all honestly that I am unemployed. I say this not because I want your pity, because I'm not in dire straights, but because it is important to realize the gravity of the situation. I am not unemployable, I have a degree from a prestigious university in Neuroscience, and as you can probably tell already, I am very adept at communication. However, this doesn't change the reality of the situation I'm in. I suppose many people are nowhere near as lucky as I am to have been able to achieve an education and to be surrounded by people who accept me regardless of my personal financial acquisitions. In this economy, it is hard to get a job, even doing something you think is far beneath your skill set, let alone trying to get a job you're not qualified for.

Please give to those who are less fortunate than yourself, especially the children. Rather than splurging on your next trip to the mall or giving ridiculously over-the-top gifts to your friends and family, keep your presents realistic (does anyone really *need* $40 soap from Lush?) and donate to someone who is in need. You will really be making a difference in someone's life and although you may not get personal recognition because donations tend to be anonymous, you will feel fulfilled and warm inside knowing that you have done the greatest service to someone that you ever could: given them the basics for survival.

Let's all work on our inner beauty this holiday season.

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