It's Sunday and I've just returned from watching Dance Designs' Dancing for a Cure. Over the weekend, they've run three programs and raised an estimated $40,000 for breast cancer research. What a neat thing for kids to know they've turned their talents into such powerful assistance ... and for their parents to see them do it.
You can't get outcomes like this without dedicated adults. Students at my school have challenged themselves to fill 1,000 bags of groceries for the food pantries of our Council of Churches. We're closing in on 200 so far. Naturally, to make this work, we need parents willing to do this too — and we have lots.
Here's a strategy we all can do: when we go to market, fill an extra bag to give away. It doesn't have to be expensive stuff, just something useful. But if all of us did do it, even once a month, no one would have to go hungry. To locate pantries, call 508-775-5073.
Imagine if the Pentagon had to run bake sales to buy each bomber? Given the number of Americans in trouble and the collapse of state and federal budgets, trying to meet the needs is like holding a million bake sales. That's what Americans are doing — and that's what people on Cape are doing, too. Let me count the ways.
The Needy Fund, sponsored by this paper, meets emergency needs. It's not welfare; it's temporary critical assistance. Applicants for assistance are carefully screened to determine the genuineness of the need. The money goes directly to pay landlords, utility providers and hospitals, not as cash grants to individuals. This is a tremendous undertaking. It's fair to say thousands of people have been kept off the streets through the generosity of donors like you. Call 508- 778-5661.
Housing Assistance Corporation delivers housing and employment services that help put Cape and Islands residents into safe and stable housing. They run public workshops on such practical subjects as "rebuilding your credit," do free energy audits for home-owners — and HAC runs a cluster of adult shelters, a last resort for people who would otherwise be on the streets. Their object is to move people from street to shelter — and into permanent housing. Call 508- 771-5400.
The Salvation Army provides meals for the hungry, clothes for those who need them, and emergency assistance at disasters around the world. If you can, just stuff a dollar into their kettles every time you pass one.
Cape Cod Council of Churches' Homeless Outreach programs: Includes food pantries, baby center, residence for women just released from prison, and homeless outreach people who actually scour the woods to bring in the hard case homeless for shelter and treatment. Many of their member churches open their doors at night to the homeless, provide food and all-night company and advice. They're always hurting for funds. Contact 508-775-5073.
Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center (508-778-1590) and the Hyannis Vet Center (508-778-0124) both offer a wide range of assistance to those who've served our country in uniform. A quarter of all America's homeless are vets, and those returning from combat today are running into a depressed economy.
Community Action Committee of Cape Cod and the Islands achieves its mission through a variety of programs and services designed to help low- and moderate-income families and individuals manage their limited budgets and provide opportunities to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Help them and support the Safe Harbor shelter for battered women and Children, the Pilot House, and a wide range of assistance and counseling for low income families. Call 508-771-1727.
There are far more worthy organizations than there is room to describe — or name — in a column. Independence House (508-771-6507) and Children's Cove (508- 375-0410) serve victims of domestic violence. Champ House (508- 771-0885) and Homeless Not Helpless (508-957-2334) offer shelter and experienced guidance. The United Way (508- 775-4746) supports a whole galaxy of good work, including several organizations mentioned here.
The Cape's churches — working through the Council and independently — do wonderful work. The Catholic Church runs an enormous charitable operation, too.
We all run a risk of "donor burn-out." Everywhere we turn, even stores are asking us to make a contribution. We can only do so much. Meanwhile, in spite of all that we all are doing, neighbors are going under all around us. But seeing those children dance to packed houses filled me with gratitude and admiration. We'll have to give until it hurts — but we'll get each other through this. Jesus once asked who our neighbor is. God bless us all for knowing the answer.
Lawrence Brown teaches humanities at Cape Cod Academy in Osterville. Respond to his Friday columns at firstname.lastname@example.org.