I’m taking a little editorial break to participate in Blog Action Day. Normally I would have put together a more detailed post, however I forgot about this annual event until this afternoon when I received a reminder from a colleague.
The topic of this year’s Blog Action Day is Poverty.
As a Social Worker I have worked with many kids and families that lived well below the “poverty level”, I’ve struggled to find a mental health professional who would treat a teenager because their was no private insurance to bill. I’ve called friends, colleagues, businesses, trying to find a bed for a high schooler who gave up his when his younger brothers moved back home. I’ve bought a meal for a kid who hadn’t had breakfast or lunch, and probably wasn’t going to get dinner that day.
As a Soldier I have seen “third world” poverty that opened my eyes to the global issues of poverty. I used to see the commercials on tv asking for my meager donation to “sponsor a child” but didn’t internalize the images I was seeing. After seeing it with my own eyes its hard to understand how people can live in such conditions. No clean water, barely any food, mud buildings…
What can we as Scouts and Scouters do?
The most important thing we can do is make sure future generations understand that this is a problem that needs attention. Think about these examples:
1. Participate in Scouting For Food. Maybe your unit can work a little harder and expand your area by a couple of blocks to collect more food. You could make sure to get local media attention so more people know about the food drive. Instead of just collecting door to door you could add barrels at local grocery stores.
2. Older Scouts and Venturing Crews can serve a meal at a Soup Kitchen. Most of the time meal sites rely on volunteer labor to prepare, serve, and clean up for each meal served. See what the restrictions are and see how you can sign up.
3. Talk to your Council about volunteering with the ScoutReach program. In urban areas these groups usually meet after school with the help of a paid facilitator. Scouts and Leaders are normally welcome to come in and help teach a skill or run activities.
4. Participate in a school supply drive or coat drive or clothing drive, etc.
This is obviously just a few simple ideas. Think outside of the box, come up with your own. Poverty is an issue we should all care about.
Whatever you do, make sure the Scouts involved see the benefit of their work! Often this is where there is a disconnect. Yes, kids love putting spare change in the red kettles with the bell ringers, but how many kids know what that money is used for? Yes, we put some food in a barrel but where does that food go? Who does it help?
I think a Cub Scout parent did a great job of documenting this concept in his blog post titled: “Poverty Close to Home – Blog Action Day 2008“. I’d encourage you to read the whole post but here is a snippet:
We brought items for the collection, because it was the “right” thing to do. To help out in this season of thanksgiving. To give and then move on to happier thoughts.
For our small group within the Cub Scout Pack, though, we were charged with delivering these collected items to the Repairers of the Breach. Would it be “safe” to take a few 3rd graders to a shelter in downtown Milwaukee? Away from the safety of our suburban neighborhood?
After much discussion, both with parents, and with the “Repairers” organization – we decided we would take a group of parents and kids to the shelter to deliver the items we had.
It was an experience I’ll never forget.
Read the whole post: Poverty Close to Home – Blog Action Day 2008
What can you do to make a difference in the fight against poverty?