The Christmas season brings about what most of us consider the holiest time of the year, when we celebrate the birth of Christ and the desire for peace on Earth and good will to men.
We hear about the “peace” and “good will” so much this time of year that some consider those terms clichés. It certainly brings out the best in many of us, as we see with the annual Christmas Crusade that Sheriff Jason Ard has directed in his six years in office, was started by his predecessor and mentor, Sheriff Willie Graves.
The toys are certainly a great means of making the season a little brighter and bringing more joy to children and adolescents. As in similar crusades in neighboring parishes, many of the more fortunate folks donate either cash or toys to the events.
Aside from the toys, another area not only for the kids, but the entire family: Food on the table.
For many, the need for food poses one of the biggest challenges. It hits hard during the Christmas season, as well as the other 51 weeks of the year for many families.
Livingston is one of 11 parishes served by the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, which has endured its own challenges in recent years.
Within the scope of the region, 133,000 households fall under the category of “food insecure,” which means few grocery items are in the pantry or refrigerator. The total includes 42,000 children and 46,000 senior citizens.
As the husband of a schoolteacher, my wife often tells me stories of how some students dread the thought of holidays or summer vacation. It’s not because they love school as much as they dread the thought that they may miss meals because of a lack of food.
It’s the same basis that started Mighty Moms here in Livingston Parish several years ago, and that program has grown leaps and bounds to help provide food packages for students from needy families.
Churches also play a big role, either in doling out food items provided by other groups, or through their own collection efforts. But their resources cannot meet the demands since there’s only so much to go around.
These struggles prevail in a society obsessed with owning the latest and greatest of so many material items. It may be the latest incarnation of smart phones, gadgetry, automotive, TVs and sound systems … the list goes into infinity.
Others only wish they could afford three meals a day, something for which so many of us take for granted.
We hear so much this season about how we should think about the needy, which makes it the ideal time to consider the donations to the various groups that collect food for the less fortunate.
The Food Bank, for example, has taken quite a hit in recent years due to natural disasters – including the 2016 floods. Donations to the Food Bank, Mighty Moms, faith-based organizations and other entities are great ways to help year-round. Generosity and care for others should not be limited to holidays.
If anything else, think how often many of us look into our pantry and figure out what we will fix for dinner … so many choices. We may not want that and instead decide to eat out somewhere. At the same time, remember that many folks – some possibly in our own neighborhoods – only wish they could have that privilege.
Donations to food drives are always a great idea this time of season, but it shouldn’t stop there. Consider the other 51 weeks of the year, since the struggle never ends for many of them.
When we count our blessings this time of year, perhaps we should think how we can provide the same privileges we take for granted.