Saturday, May 20, 2017

Giving To Inner City Charities

By Nancy Watson

Helping the poor and needy is something everyone can do. In many cases, even a small donation of money will make a significant difference, especially when it's multiplied many times. Individuals can also contribute time and energy to groups or organizations that seek to alleviate the problems of downtown populations. Inner city charities provide basic things like food and shelter, as well as advancing education, the arts, and employment.

It's easy to ignore the plight of the residents who live in the heart of our cities. Those who work in tall office buildings or patronize the trendy restaurants and shops of downtown may never see the homeless, the children playing in the streets, or the teens with no place to go. Urban renewal has brought life back to many downtown areas, but it also displaced whole neighborhoods.

Fortunately, every city has its saviors who hope to help those who desperately need it. The homeless who live on the street need places to go, food to eat, clothes to wear, counseling to cope, and opportunities to thrive. Tourists may give them a dollar here and there, storekeepers may let them earn a meal or sleep on a grate, and the museums may let them come in to warm up or cool off. However, it's the year-round, night-and-day organizations that really serve this population.

These organized efforts are important, because they provide some stability to those who aren't making it on their own very well. Shelters provide places to sleep for individuals and for whole families who may have lost their home. Sleeping in cars or in alleyways is a very real situation in most cities.

Providing a meal and a place to stay helps on an immediate level. Many efforts focus on longer-term help, like recreational facilities for urban youth, scholarships for talented students, or adult literacy programs. Keeping children off the streets after school may lessen the attraction of gang membership. Helping a young person get a college education can mean a better life. Learning English can help an immigrant get a job and keep it.

The organizations that provide hands-on help may be supported by foundations that make coordinated efforts possible. A foundation may be sponsored by one wealthy individual or by a corporation. Support may be financial, by raising public awareness of a problem, or by hosting fundraising efforts. Many social functions have a humanitarian aspect, even if all that most see is the red carpet.

People can help by writing a check (it's important to make sure the recipient is an effective and responsible group), donating new or used clothing, giving time to a food bank or shelter, or tutoring someone who needs academic help. The first step is realizing that there is a need that can be met. The second step is deciding to do something that will make a difference.

Some may give a lot, others a little. If all you can do is give up your morning latte and drink the free stuff at the office, so be it. If all of us pull together, everything counts. Give of your time and talents even if you can give money, too. The more we do, the better things will be for everyone.

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