Black Friday is in the rear-view mirror, and Christmas is just around the corner. Our bellies are stuffed tighter than the Thanksgiving turkey, and our eyes are glazed over with a carbohydrate-induced high. Yes, it’s Christmas time.
One of my favorite traditions is viewing Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I know that with Netflix I’ll find my favorite version — George C. Scott is the best Scrooge ever. I’m well-known in my family for being a “softie.” Hallmark commercials sometimes send me scrambling for a tissue. Several scenes from Dickens’ tale have the same effect, but one in particular comes to mind.
As the day Scrooge spends with the Ghost of Christmas present is coming to a close, the giant apparition parts his robe to expose two horribly dirty, skinny children. Inquiring who they are, and urging the spirit to cover them, Scrooge learns their names — Ignorance and Want. The message is timeless, and applies to us today as much as ever.
We no longer use the term “want” to describe economic oppression — we call it poverty. The numbers of our neighbors who live in that condition is growing as the economic downturn strikes at the heart of the middle class. Most of us live only one or two paychecks away from disaster. A lost job or a health crisis is all it takes to knock a family down from having plenty to poverty.
Dickens aptly communicated that of the two, Ignorance is the most to be feared. Though the reading may prove unsettling, I urge you not to skip the articles in this publication in the series Jessamine Faces Need. Though it may not seem to fit the theme of general holiday merriment, we must not sit idly by while many of our fellow citizens struggle to eke out an existence.
When your heart is moved to help, as I know it will be, remember that there are many fine organizations well-equipped to assist you. I recently attended the annual dinner of the Jessamine County Beef Cattle Association as they handed out support checks to many fine local charities. Once again, I was impressed by the sincerity of the group as they carefully vet the organizations they support, looking for low administrative costs and high impact on people in need.
I also was encouraged by the words of thanks and commitment to service of the spokespeople there to receive donations. Any of our food banks, Manna Ministries of the Nicholasville United Methodist Church, the Jessamine County Senior Center and our local branch of the Salvation Army would all be careful stewards of your donations. I try never to pass up a red kettle without tossing in a donation.
Perhaps you don’t have extra cash. You can instead give in-kind donations of food or goods. Maybe best of all you could give a very precious commodity — your time. Any of these organizations would be happy to let you volunteer to assist them in the worthy work they do.
Another option would be to contact a local minister. Many of them are inundated during the holidays with heart-wrenching pleas for financial assistance. If you are not acquainted with a minister, I recommend contacting Max Vanderpool of Generations Community Church or Dwight Winter at the Wilmore Free Methodist Church. Each church is highly committed to making a difference in Jessamine County.
Dickens wrote of the two children, “No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.” One of my Christmas wishes is that we can lessen the impact of both Want and Ignorance regarding the poor in our little corner of the world.