It really is starting to get chilly at night. The holidays are almost
here, and the weather in Los Angeles can change as fast as a teenage
crush. Jack Frost is pounding at the door, and once again the weather
forecasters foresee a very wet and cold winter.
At this time of year in Southern California, temperatures can
plummet into the 40s and sometimes even the 30s. This is a bitter and
hard time for more than 2 million dispossessed and destitute American
citizens. There are more than 100,000 homeless people living in L.A.
County alone, and one out of every four is a child.
Thanksgiving is over, and it is time for most of us who live and
work in this very opulent and righteous country to buy gifts and get
ready for Christmas. But as natives of this great and generous
nation, we also must not forget our less fortunate neighbors.
We must remember the true torment, heartbreak, horror and plight
of the homeless population. These people are living a stark agony
most of us could never envision. They are unable to fulfill the most
fundamental human needs, like providing themselves good food, clean
clothing and simple shelter.
These men and women are sometimes too disabled to apply for state
and government aid. They are living in desperate need of help and are
sometimes very vulnerable and quite often victims of violence.
There are several worthwhile agencies and a lot of dedicated
people working to help the impoverished. We also have many courageous
volunteers taking up the struggle and battling the system to help
this worthwhile cause. More than ever during the holidays, nonprofit
agencies serving the poor and homeless need our help.
We have several amazing nonprofit agencies in our community that
do a truly remarkable job with very little funding. Their real riches
are in commitment, ideas and volunteerism. I believe we must do all
we can to help these agencies continue to assist the needy.
This is also a great opportunity to set a good example for our
sensitive and impressionable children and young adults. I believe we
must teach them to be aware, accountable and devoted to doing the
right and ethical thing. We must also demonstrate to our sons and
daughters that America is an honorable and concerned nation. We must
prove that we care about our disadvantaged citizens and that we will
reach out a helping hand to our fellow man.
By constantly seeing the homeless on the streets of our cities,
our children are becoming less concerned and empathetic. They are not
learning from us about accountability, responsibility, moral
obligation, and their duty as Americans and concerned human beings.
Whether you only have enough money to donate a dollar to a
Salvation Army Santa Claus or you can afford to adopt a family for
Christmas, just give something. I’m sure it will make you feel good
and also help someone less fortunate. Giving really is better then
Burbank Temporary Aid Center (BTAC) always needs toys for Santa’s
Room, and other programs that allow underprivileged children to
receive presents from Santa Claus at Christmas. Santa and BTAC
started Santa’s Room because Santa is sometimes so busy he needs a
little help. I heard they need gifts for teenagers like gift
certificates for movies and CDs.
I also know both Santa and BTAC would like to thank the
extraordinary people who donate toys each year to this truly
fantastic program. A lot of children would not have a Christmas if it
weren’t for this kindhearted and compassionate agency. If you would
like to make a donation, please call BTAC at 846-2330.
Investigative Documentaries Educating American Society (IDEAS) is
also getting ready for its annual winter blanket drive. Last year,
IDEAS provided more than 500 blankets and sleeping bags to the poor
and homeless. We had numerous calls from schools, service clubs, Boy
Scouts and several very generous people wanting to donate blankets to
the down-and-out. It was quite inspirational and amazing.
Out of the many calls, one truly touched our hearts at IDEAS. It
was from a young woman who confided to me how she had been out of
work for months. She sadly explained how she had been desperately
searching week after week for a job, but to no avail. She told me
that because of her own severe problems she could easily identify
with the homeless and poor. She then described how she wanted to
donate her one and only blanket to help out. Even though she claimed
to be almost penniless herself, she would be OK because she still had
her apartment. “If it gets too cold I can use a rug to keep me warm,”
she said. This woman was a true humanitarian.
IDEAS would not take her blanket, but it was the most important
offer we received last winter. It reminded all of us at IDEAS that in
this cold and sometimes cruel world, there still beats a few caring
and concerned hearts. We also need volunteers, storage space, gas and
a truck to help us distribute the blankets. Anyone who would like to
donate a blanket or sleeping bag, learn more about IDEAS or how to
get involved, please call me.
* Kevin McKenna is executive director of Investigative
Documentaries Educating American Society (IDEAS). If you have any
comments or ideas or need more information on how you can help or
contribute, call 846-3519 or visit email@example.com.