Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Matthew 25:42

Looking to make the world a slightly better place? Interested in doing it for the 2005 tax year? I knew you were.

I have three recommendations. They all focus on hunger, and I give money to all of them. Jesus, as you might know, was big into making sure that the hungry were fed. Whether or not you think Jesus is the Christ, you probably think that feeding the hungry is an admirable thing to do, and I’m going to give you some thoughts on three organizations that help to feed hungry people. Let us begin, and in alphabetical order so that I’m not placing value on one of these over another.

  • America’s Second Harvest was one of the very first organizations on site after Hurricane Katrina hit the US gulf coast. They were feeding people within hours of the storm subsiding, and they have continued to provide relief in that region ever since. Brooke and I have been giving them money for a few years now, and I’m so glad we do. I was even more satisfied with the choice we made to donate to them when I learned about their prompt appearance on the gulf coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

    The “second harvest” in the organization’s name refers to the harvesting of unsold food from conventional grocery stores to food banks. To the best of my knowledge, this is a secular organization. Donations to America’s Second Harvest are tax-deductible and are frequently matched by wealthy corporations during their fund drives—but don’t let that stop you. They’re a direct-action charity, and they need your money now.

  • Bread for the World is, and I make no claims to the contrary, a religious organization. The organization describes itself as “nationwide Christian movement that seeks justice for the world's hungry people by lobbying our nation's decision makers.” Donations to Bread for the World are not tax-deductible. This group used to get a sporadic check from me, but now I have them take a monthly donation from my credit card because I’m so happy with the things they do. I even take their (very occasional) phone calls, because 95% of them are informing me about a bill coming up, whether in the state or federal government, and that I should encourage my elected officials to vote against poverty and hunger.

    Bread for the World does not lay out tracts in soup kitchens or promote legislation that would coerce people living in poverty to become religious. This group endorses things like welfare and TANF programs and funding for the Millennium Development Goals. It seeks at its very core to feed the hungry people in the US and all around the world. Please go to the Bread for the World website (linked above) to learn more.

  • Heifer International is the one out of the three of these of which you’ve most likely heard. They get a lot more press than either of the previously mentioned organizations, but they do wonderful, wonderful things—things I’ve seen in action. Heifer is also a Christian organization, but they don’t proselytize, either. Donations are tax-deductible. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you might have legitimate reservations about donating to Heifer, as they buy and breed animals to be used by people in poverty. The use varies base on the animal, and it ranges from chicken eggs and alpaca fleece to meat and milk. There is the option to “buy trees” for a family or community, but as the disclaimer states, “Each purchase is symbolic and represents a contribution to the entire mission of Heifer International. Donations will be used where needed most to help struggling people.”

    I’ve personally seen Heifer Project working for people. During my short time in a small, displaced village in Honduras, I had the opportunity to see Heifer’s Honduran outpost and talk to the people involved in the “chicken project” in Nuevo Porvenir (the village’s name means New Future). A few families in the village were given several chickens with the understanding that as the chickens grew and reproduced, other families would be given chickens. For their efforts and resources, using their chickens for eggs was most efficient. Their children, they told us, were healthier. Everyone was sick less often, and the babies grew fatter. The people in this particular village had once lived at the top of a mountain but now live in the valley below. The rains from Hurricane Mitch literally washed the village and their farmlands down the mountain, and even two and a half years later, the people were still building new homes in the valley. The chickens give them food as they struggle to regain land for farming.


At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I googled Nuevo Porvenir and found your blog. First off, contratulations on your new baby! Nothing in life is more thrilling. Second, I spent parts of five February's in Porvenir with college groups helping them rebuild. I skipped Honduras this year but was thinking about them this morning. Best wishes to you, your partner and your new daughter!


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