While the recession may be officially “over” in this country, poverty and class discrepancy is still on the rise. According to a recent report that was featured at the National Public Radio website titled “How America’s Losing the War on Poverty“, 16% of us Americans now live in poverty. This will mark the largest increase of Americans living at or below the poverty level since President Johnson declared his war on poverty in 1964. While this statistic is sad enough, this article also mentions the more startling fact that the number of Americans living close to the poverty level is nearly double that number. An article in the November 18, 2011 New York Times states “100 million people — one in three Americans — [lives in] either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it [now called the ‘near poor]. Taken from the NPR article, Peter Edelman, a professor at Georgetown University and an expert on poverty, was interviewed and he stated:
There’s a common perception that somebody who’s poor or living below the poverty level is lazy or simply living off government handouts. Edelman says the actual average poor person is working. “And working as hard as she or he possibly can,” he says. “And particularly in the recession, not able to get work or steady work. There are certainly people who make bad choices, but the fundamental question in our economy is the number of people who are doing absolutely everything they can to support their families — and they just can’t make it.”
Maybe this is you or someone you know, trying to hold on, working two low-paying jobs, living pay check to pay check and collecting food stamps?
This time of year, we are being hit with school lists and back to school sales. (It never ceases to amaze me that this starts shortly after the 4th of July). These lists can really add up! Multiply this by a couple of kids and economic hardship, and you have a child without school supplies. That is where Channel 2’s “It’s Time 2 Pack a Backpack,” comes in handy. On Aug. 17th, Channel 2, Boys and Girls Club of Western New York, and Buffalo area Wal-Mart worked together to collect school supplies; stuff backpacks; and hand them out to children in need. The public was asked to donate new school supplies to the Wal-Mart Super Center on Transit Rd. in Williamsville, or to other area Wal-marts who are participating in the fundraising drive. Additionally, school items can also be purchased at area Dollar Tree stores, where they will be added to the assembled backpacks.
If you are in need, you can fill out applications at area Boys and Girls Clubs in Buffalo. Applications were being accepted through Aug. 10th but you might try calling them at 716.825.1016 if you missed that deadline. This is a win-win situation for all, as the joy of giving and helping, meets a real need in our community, and helps launch a child’s successful school year. We should never forget that children are the future of our country and many need our help more now than ever before.
[Note: For more volunteer information and to sign-up to help pack the backpacks that were donated, contact Jennifer Mickens at (716) 825-1016 or firstname.lastname@example.org Pacing will occur on Aug. 20-22.]