Every Wednesday my kids and I head down the road to The Well food pantry to stock the shelves, fill plastic bags with groceries, take out the trash, flatten boxes and haul them to a recycling center. Our little trips to The Well have kept me reminded of the present recession’s impact on our small town, and of the impact loving my neighbors can have these days.
THIS ISN’T POVERTY
Saturn once made cars here. Then GM made cars here. Now no one’s making cars here and rumors around town have us wondering if they ever will again. That would put about 3000 of my neighbors out of work.
Those who don’t make cars are mostly younger families who can’t afford houses in the cities north of us. The largest demographic in our town is a 32 year-old mom with a preschooler. When the recession crept in, jobs were lost, gas and food prices inched upward and quite a few people now need a little help: Nothing major most of the time; just groceries for a week or month until they can get things sorted out.
To be sure, this isn’t poverty. This is major inconvenience. But it’s terrifying, embarrassing and traumatic for families who’ve never had to depend so heavily on anyone else before. And it’s happening to more of my neighbors daily.
The Well fed 250 families in our tiny town last month, up from the month before. The kids and I have fewer and fewer cans of food to put on the shelves each Wednesday. After the bags are filled, the cupboards are at or near empty. The Well is having a hard time keeping up with demand. To make matters a bit more difficult, our church, which started The Well a few years ago, is still its primary funder today. Only one other church in town has committed to give to The Well regularly. That makes it very hard – almost impossible – for The Well to keep up with our neighbors’ increasing needs.
And the need looks as if it will continue to increase. In 2006 The Well served 77 families. In 2007, 205 families. In 2008, 584. In 2009, we’ll likely be over 1000.
This recession is an opportunity for Christians in our community – individuals and churches – to love our neighbors in very tangible ways that manifest God’s compassion with no strings attached. And who knows what God may do through our compassion: Kindness often brings us to repentance.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
If you live in another city, what can you and yours do to love your neighbors during this recession? In the comments, tell us what city you’re in and link us to churches and ministries in your community who are doing a great job meeting the needs of neighbors. Maybe someone down the road from them will read about their work here and lend a hand or some cash.
SINGING FOR THEIR SUPPER
Some friends and I are donating our voices to raise money for The Well on November 15th at Thompson Station Baptist Church at 6PM. Tickets will be sold at the door: $10 adults, $5 kids, $25 family. Every cent goes to The Well. We’ll also be selling food and putting on a silent auction to raise funds that night as well. If you have stuff to donate to the auction or want to get involved in some other way, give The Well a call at 615-302-WELL or e-mail our executive director: arica AT springhillwell DOT org
There’s a Facebook event page for this concert and auction. If you’ve got friends in the area, please invite them via Facebook. Please Twitter and blog about the concert and the event page as well.
Thanks for all your help. Together we can love hundreds of our neighbors as Christ has loved us. And get a hotdog and a concert out of the deal too.