Helping “The Least of These”…

April 18, 2011 — Leave a comment

I spend a lot of time on this blog trying to convince you that Jesus intended us to help each other out. Especially those less fortunate than us. I have mentioned that I volunteer to do the cooking a couple of days a week at a soup kitchen. That is one way that I attempt to do what Jesus says. But I don’t think I have ever tried to give you any advice on other ways you can help with the homeless and financially challenged. I will attempt to fill that void, at least a little bit, via this post.

  • One of the least productive ways of doing this is by giving money to those who beg for it at local intersections.  It is widely known that almost half of the homelessness is complicated by drug addictions. When we give money directly to those unfortunate souls we are likely inadvertently supporting their drug habit instead of helping them with a hand up.
  • Instead of giving them money offer to take them to a local restaurant for  lunch or to a grocery story for food for their families. That way you know where the money you give is going.
  • Another very efficient way is to contribute to those agencies who support the less fortunate with a place to sleep or a hot meal. There are usually several of these types of places in even the smallest towns.  The one I support with both my time and money is Backstreet Missions in Bloomington Indiana. They support homeless men in one shelter and battered women with children in another. They also serve about four hundred meals a week to the less fortunate in the community.  There are literally thousands of these type agencies throughout the U.S. Most of them do this through no government or religious denominational support.
  • Another way to support “the least of these” is to support the concept of healthcare for all. Over half the bankruptcies in the U.S. are related to people drowning in medical expense debt. That condition is a major contributor to being homeless or very financially challenged. It greatly saddens me that many Christian denominations today that are aligned with radical right politics seem to be against the idea of healthcare for all. The very concept of being against universal healthcare seems very unChristian to me.
  • One of the ways that the children of the financially challenged break the strangle hold of poverty is through Pell Grants. These are annual scholarships given to kids whose families earn less than $25,000/year. Unfortunately, due to the Republican party’s insistence and President Obama’s signing off on it, the latest round of budget cuts just signed into law pretty much gutted these college scholarships. You can help the financially challenged by calling your congressperson and telling them to re-instate the Pell Grants.
In the coming weeks I will try to offer you additional ways that you can help the poor and homeless. If you have time many agencies can use your help. If you don’t have time (but we all have the same twenty-four hours a day 🙂 ) then you can help by contributing your money to their operations. The last few years has resulted in a dramatic increase in the needs in this area at the same time that donations are decreasing. Agencies who support Jesus’ work in this are really struggling to meet the needs.
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