Whitehall-Coplay Press

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Fighting Hunger: How will you help those in your community?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 by Shari Noctor Special to The Press in Opinion

I was thinking about what I was going to write this month. Sometimes, it takes a few days to think of something meaningful.

I turned my National Wildlife Federation calendar that I received in the mail to February, and there was a quote from Jane Goodall: “The most important thing, as I am constantly saying, is to think about small ways in which we can make a difference — every day.”

This was a sign to me that this is what I am supposed to write about this month.

If everyone can just do one small thing every day or even once a week, we truly can make a difference for others and for ourselves. What a better place our community could be if everyone just did one small thing!

So what can you do? Here are a few suggestions. Make an effort to be nice to a family member or friend from whom you have distanced yourself for whatever reason. (I have done this. It takes a while, but it works.) Hold a door open for someone when going into a store. Smile more. Bring a meal to a neighbor who lives alone, or invite that person to your home for a meal. Help those less fortunate than you. Be happy.

Please reflect on all the many gifts you have and share those talents and experiences. If you like to garden, read, do crafts, work on cars, build birdhouses, play sports, you can share your hobbies with someone else. Older people can help younger people understand how it was when they were growing up. Younger people can help older ones with social media. The world is very different today from five, 10, 20, 50-plus years ago. There are many ways you can share your passions. Consider how you can make a difference — no matter how young or how old you are.

Contact any civic organization, senior center, retirement home, hospital or library and ask to be a speaker and/or ask how you can help them. You might not want to join any group, but you may want to help them with one event they are doing.

Helping people with food insecurity is another way you can help someone. Hungry people live in our area, whether you believe it or not. Your neighbor may need food, and you do not even know it. Hunger is not normally discussed, but it does exist.

Food insecurity for children in the Whitehall-Coplay School District is very real. As of Jan. 25, here are the percentages of kids in each school that are eligible for free or reduced-rate breakfast and lunch, given to me by the school district.

Gockley Elementary School: 45.5 percent. (This number is slightly skewed since most of kindergarten do not have lunch, so they do not apply). The percent for grade 1 is 49.6 percent; Steckel Elementary School: 55.6 percent; Zephyr Elementary School: 59.1 percent; Whitehall-Coplay Middle School: 57.2 percent; and Whitehall High School: 51.1 percent.

Please notice that half the school district students need help with a basic necessity food; so do their families and so do other adults and seniors not included in these statistics. The Whitehall Food Pantry serves 150 adults, including 35 seniors, and 114 children on average a month. These numbers would be much higher if more residents had transportation to get to the food pantry or it was open at a time when the residents are not working. Yes, many food-insecure people are the working poor.

Our Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative always is open to ideas to alleviate hunger in our community. You may have a fresh idea and may want to attend our next meeting, set for 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3355 MacArthur Road, Whitehall, to see how you can help us.

We work with Lehigh Valley Health Network, Kellyn Foundation and the school district to plant vegetable gardens for the children. You may want to help the gardens flourish over the summer when school is closed. People take a week over the summer to help with this project. You can help at the Whitehall or Coplay food pantries, our Snack Pack Pals program, our biweekly community meals or our two summer breakfast camps.

More importantly, you can help someone, anyone, a stranger, a family member, a friend. Little things done every day can make a huge difference. You will feel great about yourself. The person you showed kindness to will be grateful. And that person may do something nice for someone else, and so on.

If everyone would do one act of kindness every day, our community would be a better place. Please do something.