National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week happens one week before Thanksgiving-this year it will be Nov. 14-20.
A drive down North 10th Street, past Sherrod Apartments and Adams and Smith residence halls, and a left on Alabama Street brings one to a setting unlike the rolling green grass and extravagant buildings of ACU’s campus. Located about a mile from campus, this is a part of Abilene, among others, where a single mother struggles to feed her two children with a minimum wage job, where hopelessness is driving teenagers to earn their keep by stealing it, where hunger is a common concept in the neighborhood-a part of Abilene denied the attention it needs from those who have attention and resources to give.
During this nationally recognized week, schools, cities, communities and churches participate in this nationwide attempt to bring awareness about the growing number of people who are hungry and homeless to a wealthy nation of individuals who are constantly taking more for themselves, often neglecting those in need.
Seldom do Americans stop and reflect on those who are less fortunate, other than occasionally giving change to beggars. This awareness week, established by a secular organization, can be a week of service in which the faith and beliefs of many can be revealed to an ignorant nation.
The National Coalition for the Homeless suggests a number of activities to make this an effective week of service. The National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week manual suggests activities such as going a night or two without a home, planning or attending informative forums that bring people’s attention to the problems of hunger and homelessness, registering homeless or low-income individuals to vote, fasting, planning potlucks for the community, and the list goes on.
Anyone can participate in this week of attention to the less fortunate. All it takes is the assertiveness of a few individuals to spark a program that will help the community. Abilene can be part of this effort.
According to www.abilenementalhealth.org, Abilene has a homeless population between 700 and 1,200 on any given night, and an even greater number of people who have shelter but are hungry. Just more than 15 percent of the entire population of the city, according to www.wikipedia.org, is below the poverty line.
The National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week aids a week-long effort to bring participants’ minds back to the community and those in the community who need help.
However, as Christians, a designated week for this effort should not be our only approach to the issue. A consistent evaluation of the community is in order, as people are homeless 365 days a year, not just seven.
Even if you decide not to participate in the official week of service, service is something that can always be done. All it takes is an open mind, open eyes and a willingness to serve those in need no matter where you are.
National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week is a good start to something people, more specifically Christians, do not pay enough attention to. If participating in this event will bring your consistent attention upon hunger and poverty, this week could be a life-changing evaluation to the amount of compassion you give to those who do not share a similar social and economical standing.
But if November 14-20 is the extent of your compassion to the needy, then Christians aren’t doing their part in the community.