Connie Schultz had a column in the Plain Dealer Sunday about the dire straits faced by local food banks who are struggling to supply food to the many people who still don't have decent jobs.
"In this season of giving, there are more Americans going hungry than in any time in recent history. If you're not worried about putting food on your table, please ask your friends and loved ones to skip your present and, instead, give the gift of a meal in your name," she wrote.
"No matter where you live in this country, there is a good pantry near you. To find one, go online or call a library or house of worship in your neighborhood."
The Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio supplies food to the food pantries in Erie County (and also in Huron, Crawford and Lorain counties), so I phoned the group's director, Julie Chase-Morefield, to ask if her group needs help, too.
Chase-Morefield told me the local Second Harvest relies largely on individual donations. About the same number of people are making donations, but many have had to cut back on how much they can give, she said.
"Maybe it was $25, but now it's $10," she said.
My wife and I have made a small donation to Second Harvest. Will you help, too? And if you have a blog or a Twitter account, or a Facebook account, will you add your voice to ours?
A couple more points: A few days ago, I interviewed Bill Smith at Great Lakes Retirement in Perkins Township, and he said that now is the time to maximize charitable donations as 2010 comes to an end. If you make a donation, do it quickly and save a receipt for your records so that you can take it off your income taxes.
The Web site for Second Harvest of North Central Ohio notes that it's a 501(c)3 nonprofit under the IRS code.
And if you make a donation, celebrate by downloading a free audiobook of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" here.
Connie's column quoted from messages written down on paper plates by people getting meals at Cleveland Foodbank.
The paper plate program is statewide, and local food pantries participate, too. Here are messages on paper plates collected by Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, written by your neighbors:
“Our family is so thankful for this program because it has helped us in our time of need. It has been helpful because we didn’t have any extra money to get groceries this week. We don’t know what we would have done without the help of the food pantry in this time of need. We are so grateful.”
“What this program means to me is food for me and my family, without it we would go hungry.”
“It means the world to me to get food when we need it. Praise God for you.”
“When you are down and out, it is a comfort to come to. Thank you. God Bless.”
“No more hunger pains, and I am blessed by the Lord himself. God Bless All. Thank You.”
“This is a good program because it helps us out with food. It helps because the food stamps only go so far and there’s no money to buy [food].”
“Helps feed my baby each month.”
“With the help of programs like this my family has food.”
“We are doing the best we can with what we have. Our funds are just not enough to cover everything we need when all the costs keep raising on everything and hours are getting cut and raises aren’t being given.”
“Well the choices we have had to make is do without. Food means life. Without the food pantry we would just have to do without.”