As we approach Thanksgiving, I'm feeling grateful about my life of plenty: food, family friendship, family, freedom and faith. This is also the week where we are launching our new Justice Jam initiative, gatherings where people in our community will learn more about the very real issue of poverty and hunger in our community. At first, when we began to explore the theme of hunger, our research took us around the world. We looked at international statistics, national, state and finally local. It's overwhelming. Learning that 71% of children in Miami-Dade qualify for free or reduced lunches was a statistic compelling enough to convince us to focus our efforts locally.
One story of a 15 year old boy named Dylan really got to me:
"My mom got laid off 4 years ago from her job at the school district...The only work my mom can get these days is substitute teaching. It's part time and not enough to pay for the basics. Before I go to bed at night, I pray that we won't lose our house. I have a lot of weight on my shoulders for a 14 year old kid....I'm actually wearing my mom's pants now because we can't afford to buy me clothes....Our food stamps have gone from $300 to $200 a month. We're not able to afford healthy foods. It's usually chips, bologna sandwiches and all that....Eating like this and knowing that your friends are eating regular food makes me feel like I'm not normal. We run out of food sometimes and I've gone days without sleep because of hunger. The next day, I'll go through class pinching myself, doing stuff to stay awake."*
It's nothing less than tragic that in our country of plenty there are children like Dylan who literally don't know where their next meal is coming from. This Thanksgiving, let's not only celebrate our gratitude for the bounty in our lives, let's share it with others. Please consider a contribution to Mazon (http://mazon.org) which is a national Jewish organization that feeds people around our country
or Feeding South Florida (http://feedingsouthflorida.org/ways-to-give/donate-funds), and learn new ways to be an advocate for justice by attending one of our Justice Jams.
What are you doing this Thanksgiving to pay it forward?