Saturday, June 29, 2019
At approximately twelve noon yesterday I hit the self-indulgent part of summer. I had accomplished my one Really Big Goal for the summer and I found myself in line at the Giant putting a box of Barnum’s Animal Crackers in my cart. Impulse purchase. They don’t have the little string on top for carrying but they do have a cardboard handle. It’ll do.
When I was little (yeah, lookout) a box of those animal crackers was one of the few things put directly in the face of children at the grocery for the sole purpose of having them wheedle and whine until they got them. Now every grocery store is a minefield of such items, edible and non-edible. I only remember my mother buying them for me once. I think that may be why the memory is so sweet; it was truly a special event.
Later in the day a post about providing summer meals and weekend snacks to hungry children jolted me out of my nostalgic reverie. We continue to have families who are struggling with food insecurity and children who are hungry in Howard County. Summer time may mean a self indulgent box of animal crackers for me. It means no breakfast and lunch at school for others.
I am so grateful that Howard County is the kind of place where the school system and county government see and respond to that need. And let’s not forget our amazing library system that is a dynamic partner in this program. Feeding hungry children isn’t solely a nice thing to do or a charitable act one ought to do. It’s a long term investment in the success of children. And that means greater opportunities for them as they grow, better outcomes when they are adult members of our community.
The current political climate has contributed to a good deal of finger pointing and blaming in regards to poverty. Some people seem to think they have the authority to state who deserves to be helped and who does not. We are only to help the “deserving poor” according to their particular parameters of worthiness. We are only to feel empathy for some children, some families, some suffering.
Our hearts and souls will be polluted by this line of reasoning and our society will be damaged and corrupted. A child is a child. And we, as adults, have a responsibility to help, as individuals or through our community institutions. A country (or a county) where residents feel no connection to one another will, in the end, will have no cohesion. Without connections the whole thing just won’t work. We will fall apart.
This did not start out being a sermon. It was simply about summer, box of animal crackers, and the memories of childhood. Right now Howard County is building memories for children that will include kindness, and welcoming adults, and enough to eat.
That’s a sermon right there, all by itself,