You can see the look of gratitude on their faces when they sit down to eat.
It might be the only meal they get that day, the only nutritious meal they and their children get to enjoy.
Much of that gratitude is for the people volunteering to prepare and serve the meals. Much of it is gratitude for having a warm place to enjoy it, the local mission or soup kitchen.
The gratitude of having someone to sit with and share a conversation over a warm plate of vegetables and a cup of coffee.
Everyone who volunteers to help the hungry, at this time of year or all year long, should be considered for sainthood.
But the meals don’t happen if ordinary citizens and businesses don’t contribute to the local food pantries that supply the soup kitchens and mission halls with the ingredients for their meals.
You people who donate often don’t get to see the people enjoying what you’ve given. You won’t get a word of thanks or a smile of quiet gratitude.
You won’t get to directly experience the feeling that you’ve helped someone get through their day.
But those people in need in your community are benefi tting from your generosity, whether you’re there to experience it or not.
Your contributions are the reason.
Even though we’re way past the offi cial economic recession and unemployment is at its lowest level in almost a decade, the demand for contributions to local food pantries continues to be as high as it was in 2009, according to an article by Steve Williams that appeared in the Dec. 3 Gazette.
It’s particularly high this time of year, when organizations that serve the poor go out of their way to provide holiday meals.
With all that rosy economic news, it’s easy to be lulled into a sense of complacency, easy to forget that your contributions to food banks are as crucial as ever.
The Northeast Regional Food Bank in Latham provides perishable and non-perishable items for 500 food pantries and soup kitchens in the region and will break its own yearly record by providing 36 million pounds this year.
So when you’re out doing your weekly or holiday shopping, remember that the need for your generosity is signifi cant. Remember to grab some extra canned goods. It’s OK. They can be on sale.
Or plan to donate money. Because of its economy of scale, every dollar spent by the Regional Food Bank can purchase $10 to $12 of food that goes on those dinner tables.
Hunters, you can donate Then look on Facebook for a food collection event. Or visit Northeast Regional Food Bank’s website, www.regionalfoodbank.net, for information on how to donate money, nonperishable items and even venison. (Are you listening, hunters?)
There’s nothing that will get you in the holiday spirit more than helping someone in need.
People need you. Please remember them.